Saint Patrick preserve us! Ridge celebration of all things Irish moves to Third Avenue

Steppin’ out: Jiggers from the O’Malley School of Irish Dance put a fancy foot forward down Fifth Avenue.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Saint Patrick’s Day parade revelers will be sportin’ the green on Third Avenue instead of Fifth Avenue next year as march organizers follow a new route set by the annual Norwegian Constitution Day Parade.

Parade organizers say shrinking crowds and lack of support from Fifth Avenue merchants — coupled with the fact that the Norwegian Constitution Day Parade switched from Fifth to Third avenues earlier this year — made the decision to move the show of Irish pride, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2013, a no brainer.

“The only alternative was to move the parade to Third Avenue in an effort to garner strong support and keep a Bay Ridge tradition alive,” said parade committee president Frankie Marra.“

It was becoming increasingly more difficult to raise the funds needed to keep the parade viable.”

Third Avenue merchants said they were happy to host the parade, which is scheduled for March 24.

“It’s a great institution,” said Third Avenue Merchants president Robert Howe, an Irish-American who was a parade grand marshal in 1997.

The Norwegian-American 17th of May Committee of Greater New York, which holds the Norwegian Constitution Day Parade each year in Bay Ridge to celebrate Norway’s separation from Sweden, decided to move to Third Avenue after receiving an abysmal parade turnout in 2011.

“We didn’t get enough people,” says Kenneth Johnson, a committee co-chairman and lodge president of the local chapter of the Sons of Norway.

Fifth Avenue has been hit with a spreading plague of empty storefronts that has claimed some 30 local businesses in recent years, civic leaders say.

Organizers say next year’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade is expected to start at Saint Patrick’s Church at the corner of 95th Street and Fifth Avenue, then wend its way down Marine Avenue to Third Avenue, where it will continue toward 68th Street.

Bay Ridge Saint Patrick’s Day Parade at Saint Patrick’s Church [Corner of 95th Street and Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge] March 24, 2013.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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