It is always amazing when a massive change occurs, one that led to threats of the end of the world before the change was instituted, but then once implemented most opposition seemed to fade away immediately.
Such was the marching for the first time of the Lavender and Green group in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York. It was a battle that had consumed 25 years, dire pronouncements of Armageddon, years of protests and legal challenges.
It was also the go to evergreen story every year for the media of the intolerant Irish refusing to let gays march with their own banner, with the usual pictures of gay groups protesting and various politicians boycotting, like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
What the former parade organizers never realized was that some traditions, such as slavery, discrimination and exploitation, are better to left die.
When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, to his enormous credit, accepted the parade grand marshal role last year, knowing there was an NBC gay group marching for the first time, the writing was on the wall.
The old time religion still held for some parade leaders however, cardinal or no cardinal. It was like a horse and cart trying to keep up a Model T Ford. All had changed.
The parade board led by Dr. John Lahey, who was elected last June, realized quickly the old days were done and implemented a policy allowing Lavender and Green, an Irish group that has paid its dues over many years, to march.
In this decision they were backed by de Blasio, the entire New York City Council and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Foundation, a savvy group of Irish American business leaders who realized the damage the old parade antics were doing to the Irish image.
Thus it was on a sparkling March 17 that one of the biggest crowds in memory lined the sidewalks as hundreds of thousands marched up Fifth Avenue.
There was not a single incident reported, the Lavender and Green marchers were all in high spirits and were met with applause and friendliness all the way up the avenue.
A damn burst of emotion was let loose among those who sought only the right to be treated equally. The Supreme Court has ruled it should be so, and now the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York has followed suit.
The historic day looked no different to any other parade and the naysayer nabobs of negativism were proven utterly wrong.
There is still talk of the ancient regime somehow returning after a court case set to be heard in the Bronx next week. That would be akin to the return of spear carriers after tanks had been invented.
My strong advice to them is to let it go. King Canute turning back the waves comes to mind.
The naysayers need to slip away or stay and be part of the new dispensation. The Irish community is a far more tolerant and accepted community as a result of this move.
Don’t take my word for it, talk to the millions at the parade and the fine day had by all. The proof is in the pride, joy and tolerance of an entire community and the great parade leadership now in place.
Long may it be so.