Queens St. Paddys Parade Excludes No One – QNS.com

Queens St. Paddys Parade Excludes No One

Look, auntie, a bear," 5-year old Octavio Hernandez shrieked in Spanish as he clapped his tiny hands at a marcher in a bear costume who strolled by with the rest of the 3rd Annual St. Patricks Day parade last Sunday in Sunnyside.
The young Latino boy was a symbol of the inclusive nature of the St. Patricks parade in Queens.
Unlike its Manhattan counterpart, officials of the Queens parade allow any group to participate. Even though they are allowed in the Dublin parade, gays and lesbians of Irish descent are forbidden from openly marching in the Manhattan parade.
Local gay groups such as the Queens Lesbian & Gay Pride Committee, Corona-based youth group Generation Q, and Queens Pride House, a gay community center also marched in the parade. Its too bad other parades cant be as inclusive as this one, said members of Lavender Latkes, a Jewish gay group and Dignity, an organization for gay and lesbian Catholics.
Local politicians such as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall, City Councilman Hiram Monserrate and others attended the event. At an after-parade party thrown by Queens Pride House, Councilman Monserrate said that "the rest of society could learn from Queens example of inclusiveness.
"Im delighted to see so many people here, said Stavisky. "This used to be a very small parade. But it has grown in these short three years, and the fact that the mayor is here will ensure a broad base of support for future parades."
Sylvia Alulema came to see Clinton and Bloomberg. Her six-year old son Eduardo was just happy to see all the costumed animals like the FDNY dalmatian. Though she and her son were both from South America, "Everyone is Irish today," she said in Spanish.
The Elmhurst-Corona chapter of the NAACP also marched under its own banner. "We stand for peoples civil rights", said Ken Cohen of the organizations northeast Queens chapter.
There were a handful of protesters at the parade who thought the parade shouldn’t be so inclusive. They held up signs reading, "You are blaspheming the Lord!"
This years parade was dedicated in memory to Father Mychal Judge, an Irish-American priest who served as FDNY chaplain from 1992 until he was killed on Sept.11, giving last rites to firefighters as the Twin Towers collapsed. Father Judge was also known as a staunch supporter of civil rights for gays and people living with AIDS.
After 90 minutes, the parade ended at 60 St. and Woodside Ave. Critics of the parade may argue that rainbow flags, the gay pride symbol, Latin American dancing, and Korean drummers may not seem like a traditional New York St. Patricks Day Parade. But as one spectator repeated:Everyone is Irish today.

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