An Irish bar in the Bronx is set to attempt the the “World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade” to raise funds for the Aisling Center’s program to feed the homeless in the Bronx.
An Beal Bocht Café, in Kingsbridge, plans to stage a 47-foot parade on March 17. This is their second parade and last year’s event raised $800. Patrick Gilheany, the bar’s event manager, told IrishCentral that donations are already coming in from around the world.
Gilheany, who will be Grand Marshal of the event and who is the brains behind the endeavor, said the Aisling Center’s program spurred him on to do something. He told IrishCentral, “I've seen what the Irish volunteers for the homeless do and wanted to help them out, so I came up with the idea of world’s shortest parade.”
Since the New York Daily News published published an article on the event Gilheany has been delighted with the reaction he’s received from the public.
“I have received messages, emails and phone calls from old and new friends across the globe. Family in Ireland (Leitrim), friends in Germany, friends from a music cruise (Cayamo) and Facebook people all asking where they could send a few dollars.”
Last year’s event raised $800 for the worthy cause but this years “shortest parade” slant should see them raise much more.
Gilheany explained, “We are charging $25 a green foot which gives donors a spot for the honor.”
The Westchester and District Pipe Band will be joining in the Beal Bocht parade.
The Irish Volunteers for the Homeless, who work out of the Aisling Center in the Irish community of Woodlawn, began in 1990, at the behest of Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich. He advised that the Irish people in New York give back to a city that had secured for them numerous opportunities to succeed.
This Bronx parade does have some southern competition in the shape of the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Hot Springs, Arkansas which is only one block long. Residents of the town have, until now claimed that it is the shortest in the world.
The Arkansas parade is 98-feet-long but they’re not ready to step down from their title.
Steven Arrison, the CEO of Visit Hot Springs, said “We wish them well, but we are not going to relinquish our crown.
“We take this very seriously. We will march in place if that’s what we have to do.”
Beal Bocht’s parade, while clearly shorter, isn’t a city-sanctioned event and therefore isn’t a threat to their title.
However, both the Bronx and Arkansas are out of luck when it comes to being the smallest St Patrick’s Day celebration. Since 1993 in the town of Enterprise, Alabama, has held that claim to fame as a different person of Irish descent each year holds the Irish flag high above his/her head, carries a pot o' gold and recites limericks as he/she walks past the local courthouse and around the Bol Weevil Monument.
Grand Marshals in absentia are nominated and selected on the basis of their written acceptance speech, plus their reasons for not being able to attend the parade. In other words, anyone can be a Grand Marshal.
It takes all sorts...we guess!
Beal Bocht’s “Shortest St Patrck’s Day Parade” will take place on March 17.
For more information on the Irish Volunteers for the Homeless, please visit www.aislingcenter.org.