St. Patrick’s Day parade returns to the Rockaways this weekend

By Karen Frantz

Green and shamrocks are taking over the borough this weekend, with revelers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day expected to gather for two major parades — one to take place in the storm-hit Rockaways.

“It’s just a little step in the direction of recovering,” said Mike Benn, head of the Queens County St. Patrick Day Parade Committee.

He said the long-running annual Rockaway parade, which has traditionally been a time for the community to gather together and talk about old times, will now have another topic to bring people together: Hurricane Sandy.

“Everyone was greatly impacted,” he said.

He said logistically this year the parade was a little harder to put together because the committee relies on donations for funding rather than public money. He said he could not turn to the Rockaways business community because it had been so severely affected by the storm.

But he said a recent fund-raiser for the parade drew a huge turnout and the committee was able to make enough money.

“That was a big relief,” he said.

He said the parade is expected to attract a large crowd this year, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg scheduled to attend as in years past.

It will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at Beach 130th Street and Newport Avenue and will wend its way to the Irish Circle and Shore Front Parkway. An awards ceremony honoring members of the community will follow the parade at St. Camillus School, at 185 Beach 99th St.

This year will mark the parade’s 38th year.

A second St. Patrick’s Day parade, the St. Pat’s For All, will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at 47th Street and Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside, with bagpipers, Girl Scouts, the FDNY, stilt walkers and others marching to Woodside.

Several bars and restaurants along Skillman Avenue and Queens Boulevard will also hold parade celebrations featuring Irish music through the evening.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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