Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade draws young and old

Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade draws young and old
Wave the flag: Lily and Layla O’Brien showed their Irish pride at Bay Ridge’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 25, 2018.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

It was their lucky day!

Ridgites flooded Third Avenue on March 25 to take in the 25th-annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The favorite nabe tradition featured pipe bands, local pols, Irish dancers, floats, and everyone’s favorite four-legged mascot, Seamus. But this year’s event was particularly successful — despite the cold weather — at drawing a strong crowd full of new and old Ridgites alike, according to one of the organizers.

“It was fabulous — we had great participation, huge crowds beyond our expectations,” said Linda Gallagher-Lomanto. “There were a lot of familiar faces, old faces, and new faces. It was a little windy and cold, but other than that, it was a fantastic day.”

Participants decked out in Hibernian green — including Public Advocate Letitia James, state Sen. Mary Golden (R–Bay Ridge), Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge), and Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) — walked along the 1.7-mile route, from Marine Avenue to 67th Street. The bagpipe bands of the city’s police and fire departments brought the streets to life, and marching bands from local schools — including Fort Hamilton High School and McKinley Junior High School — accompanied the bagpipers.

Local Irish step dancers from the Buckley School of Irish Dance and the Donny Golden School moved to the beat of the drums, dazzling onlookers, including Ridgite Veronica Dizon, who kept up her tradition of attending the celebration with her family from the bucolic isle of Staten Island.

“The dancers are always fun to watch,” she said. “It was great fun. We loved it.”

Another local said her two daughters, Lily and Layla, were partial to the pipe blowers.

“The girls love it,” said Yvonne O’Brien, who lives in Dyker Heights and hails from Ireland’s County Tipperary. “They talked about it all week, so we had to go. They love all the bagpipers, of course.”

And the nabe’s top Irishmen and women received special honors, including Mike and Eileen Long and their family, who were crowned “Irish Family of the Year” for the work they’ve done for local schools and nonprofits, including Holy Angels Catholic Academy, according to Gallagher-Lomanto. And Windsor Terrace resident Martin J. Cottingham was the event’s grand marshal due to his work bringing together the local Irish community through his longtime commitment to reviving and organizing Coney Island’s Great Irish Fair, Gallagher-Lomanto added.

“He exemplifies everything an Irish-American is,” she said.

The event paid tribute to the deceased grand marshals and honorees of years’ past, the organizer added, but also looked to the future by reminding the youngest Irish Ridgites the importance of honoring their heritage and their history, the organizer said.

“We need to show young children how important it is to have these parades and keep these traditions going,” she said.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.