St Patrick’s Day Parade signals the ‘Rebirth of Rockaway’
Thousands turn up to celebrate a new era of hope and progress
Green was the colour of resiliency yesterday afternoon as thousands upon thousands of embattled Rockaway residents turned up to celebrate the 38th annual Queens County St Patrick’s Day Parade at Rockaway Beach, just 4 months after their homes and businesses were ripped apart by Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Bloomberg was there, as was Senator Chuck Schumer and a slew of politicians and personalities but for once it was not about the pols or the celebrities, it was about the Rockaway Irish, undaunted and undefeated even by Hurricane Sandy.
The Mayor got a hard time from many spectators, especially about his plans to run the New York Marathon right after Hurricane Sandy which smacked of a lack of appreciation of what people had just been through. Many felt politicians were just showing up to take credit for the remarkable recovery.
The parade was big news, featured on the front page of the New York Times and every TV newscast.
‘Rockaway’s coming back, right? It’s coming back strong!’ shouted Public Advocate Bill De Blasio through a megaphone to huge applause and there were few around the peninsula who could have disagreed with him.
Vice President of the Queens County St Patrick’s Day Parade committee, John Brennan, a native of County Limerick and Rockaway resident for 30 years, stated that there were initial plans to postpone the parade but he expressed his delight that they didn’t.
‘We had plans for this parade before October, before Sandy hit, and then it was a dark winter, you know? Businesses were destroyed, homes were destroyed, there was loss of life. My house was destroyed, my parents house was destroyed, and we asked ourselves for a minute should we go ahead with this thing and we ultimately said ‘yeah we should’.
'And under President of the committee Mike Benn’s leadership, he rallied us and we got everyone down here and what a fantastic turnout and we knew there would be. Rockaway is a fantastic community, a resilient and friendly community, and we can see that spirit here today. It’s the spring time now and it’s a new time for Rockaway and today was the rebirth and return of our neighborhood.'
Dave DeMarco, who lost his home to the storm along with many others, echoed Brennan’s sentiments.
‘My condo was ruined, 2 floors of it covered in water right down there by the beach. I had to move in to another house and I’m still there and will be there until June or July. Fema and the insurance guys are being douchebags about it all. But I’m still here and we’re still here to enjoy this great day!’
Gael of the Year Hilary Beirne was also outspoken in his praise for the event and the huge turnout it drew.
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