A longtime dream for many residents of Irish descent, Bayside’s first-ever St. Patrick’s Day Parade finally became a reality on Saturday — and by all accounts, it was a smashing success.
Hundreds turned out for the march down Bell Boulevard, from 36th to 41st avenues. St. Patrick’s Day fell a week earlier, and yet the Irish spirit ran high — with marchers clad in the green, white and orange of the Irish flag; numerous pipe and drums corps filling the air with Irish music; and shamrock-wearing spectators delighting in it all.
The March 24 parade culminated many months of planning and fundraising. The Bayside St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee held many events to drum up financial support for the march, including a dinner/dance at Vivo! Mediterranean Grill & Catering attended by more than 250 people. The committee also held regular benefits at Monahan & Fitzgerald Pub in Bayside.
Upwards of 20 community groups participated in the march, including local schools such as Holy Cross High School, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy and Sacred Heart Catholic Academy of Bayside. Various Irish-American organizations, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians (founders of the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade) and the NYPD Emerald Society, walked the route along with the NYPD Marching Band and pipe and drum corps from Iona College, Inis Fada, Breezy Point Catholic Club, Archbishop Molloy High School, Local Union No. 3 IBEW, Holy Cross High School and the MTA Police Department.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association and a Bayside resident, served as the parade’s grand marshal. Other honorees included Mary McCauley, Jeff Reinhart, Francis McLoughlin, Fr. Robert Whelan and Frank Talty.
Along with celebrating Irish heritage, the members of the Fire Department in attendance paid special homage to Firefighter Michael Davidson, who died the previous day while fighting a fire in Manhattan. They carried a banner bearing his image and the numbers 5-5-5-5 — the signal the FDNY uses when announcing a line-of-duty death.
All in all, one of the parade’s organizers, Kieran Mahoney, was grateful for those who turned out to make the parade successful.
“Yesterday was unbelievable,” he wrote in a message on the parade’s Facebook page. “Thank you everyone who marched as well as those that packed the sidewalks cheering on! I can’t thank enough the committee, all the volunteers and of course, our sponsors, that helped make history in the first-ever Bayside St Patrick’s Day Parade. Can’t wait for next year!”