The news that the Rockaway St. Patrick’s parade may be in financial jeopardy is a distressing coda to all that happened after Hurricane Sandy.
The hurricane took with it many of the local businesses in Rockaway that annually underwrite the parade. It now faces an uncertain time while finances are sought elsewhere.
This is surely a cause for the Irish American community to rally round.
“It’s been very tough raising money this year,” Democratic District Leader Lew Simon told the Daily News. “We usually have two fundraisers and we were reduced to one.”
Rockaway has traditionally been the first march of the St. Patrick’s season, the first Saturday in March. It marks the beginning of the marching season and also, the first sign that spring has come again after the long New York winter.
This year the Rockaway parade should have a special place in all our hearts after the heartbreaking events around Hurricane Sandy, which left the Rockaway area devastated.
Rockaway has now entered the history books as one of the worst affected areas by the historic hurricane, and that is surely all the more reason to rally around and support the community during the St. Patrick’s period.
The Irish community in New York and indeed, elsewhere, including Ireland, have rallied to the cause. The Irish Day of Action events late last year attended by over 1,000 Irish volunteers were clear testament to that.
That was followed up by the Gaelic Players Association from Ireland bringing over some top players a few weeks ago to help rebuild a parish gymnasium in Breezy Point, a gesture that was deeply appreciated.
But with local businesses still struggling to recover and massive damage to homes and property slowly being repaired, the stricken community still needs a helping hand.
We need to all reach out and ensure that this parade goes off without a hitch, and that the Irish spirit and pride that kept the community going through its darkest hours is revived and recognized.
Those wishing to help can send donations for the parade to the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, P.O. Box 521, Rockaway Park, New York, 11694.