Strong Irish community will host their inaugural St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 24.
Patrick’s Day parades are rising up all over the tri-state area for 2018. In addition to a first-ever march planned for Sunday, March 4 in Rutherford, New Jersey, Bayside in Queens has also entered the fray, announcing an inaugural parade for Saturday, March 24.
Bayside, further east than the traditional Queens neighborhoods of Sunnyside/Woodside and the Rockaways, is nonetheless home to an active Irish community, and locals have been talking about creating a march of their own for several years now.
Francis McLoughlin is the parade’s vice president and one of this year’s aides – the grand marshal is Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of New York and a Bayside local.
It was three years ago that McLoughlin, together with fellow Baysiders Warren Scullin and Kieran Mahoney, came up with the idea of creating a St. Patrick’s Day parade for their neighborhood. The main thoroughfare, Bell Boulevard, is dotted with Irish bars and restaurants and the town is home to a significant number of Irish, particularly those who immigrated many decades ago.
“I told Warren and Kieran that the three of us wouldn’t be able to get a parade done on our own, so I reached out to some of our local businesses, CJ Sullivan’s and Monahan and Fitzgerald, and both said that the would do whatever we needed,” McLoughlin told the Irish Voice.
Meetings were organized, volunteers were recruited, paperwork was filed and the end result is a first ever march that will commence at 10 a.m. on March 24th, from 35th to 41st Avenues on Bell Boulevard.
“The response has been really overwhelming,” said McLoughlin, whose mother is Betty McLoughlin, a native of Co. Mayo and past president of the Irish American Society in Mineola. “People are saying we should have done this years ago.”
Before the march, organizers and supporters will celebrate this Friday with a dinner dance at Vino in Bayside. The dance is sold out with 260 attendees. McLoughlin says dozens of people have been turned away because of space.
“We could have sold 40 tables easily,” he added.
As of now, 10 units have signed on to march in the parade, with many more expressing interest. The Irish American Society has been particularly supportive; ditto the Roscommon Society and the Mayo Society.
The organizers meet once a week, and what’s particularly gratifying to them is that the parade is rooted in Bayside.
“This is a special place,” says McLoughlin, who lives in Manhattan but returns to his hometown several times a week. “Everything about the parade is Bayside – the grand marshal and aides are all from here, our dance is here, even our journal is printed in Bayside. That’s been extremely important to us.”
For information on the parade, visit the Facebook page titled Bayside Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.