Bloomberg to join St. Pat’s parade in Queens

By Ayala Ben-Yehuda

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Paltz Mayor Jason West were scheduled to march in Sunday’s annual St. Patrick’s parade in Sunnyside that welcomes gay people, one of the event’s organizers said Tuesday.

The parade, which began in 2000 in response to the exclusion of gays and lesbians from the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue, is set to feature dancers, puppets, a fair and contingents of marchers from unions to religious and ethnic groups.

Brendan Fay, a parade organizer and leader of the Lavender & Green Alliance of Irish gays and lesbians, said West’s invitation was “our thanks to him for his pioneering step forward for people in the state.”

The New Paltz, N.Y. mayor recently began marrying same-sex couples after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom granted them marriage licenses last month.

“It can send an extraordinary message that has inspired people throughout New York state,” said Fay, who married his partner in Canada last year.

Bloomberg, who marched in last year’s parade, confirmed his attendance this year, said Fay.

Also set to march on Sunday were City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan), Comptroller William Thompson and Council members Eric Gioia (D-Woodside), Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights), David Weprin (D-Hollis) and Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan).

Irish activists Frank Durkan and Rego Park resident Siobhan Kyne are this year’s parade honorees. Northern Ireland Assembly member Patricia Lewsley and Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition Director Bronagh Hinds are set to be the first political leaders from Ireland to fly in for the parade.

“It’s going to be a fun and festive and spirited parade,” said Fay. “Its inclusive spirit has really taken hold.”

The march kicks off at 1 p.m. at 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue. To participate, visit www.stpatsforall.com or call (718) 721-2780.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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