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St. Pat’s for All celebrates 14th parade in Sunnyside

Organizers are joined by elected officials as they march on Skillman Avenue in the Sunnyside. Photo by Ken Maldonado
TimesLedger Newspapers

Green was not the only color on the streets of Sunnyside and Woodside Sunday as the whole spectrum of shades came out to celebrate the neighborhoods’ St. Pat’s for All parade, now in its 14th year.

For more than a decade, the parade has welcomed groups that are banned from celebrating their Irish pride in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue parade.

“We wanted an event that would be an inclusive celebration of St. Pat’s,” said parade co-founder Brendan Fay, who said he had been arrested five times for trying to march in the city’s St. Pat’s parade under a gay banner. “What’s beautiful about today is that it represents many groups of people and reflects the diversity of Queens.”

This year’s grand marshals were Aidan Connolly and Pauline Turley, of the Irish Arts Center, a 41-year-old nonprofit dedicated to promoting the arts and culture of Ireland. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) were among the elected officials who joined the festivities.

The parade’s motto is “Cherishing all the children of the nation equally” and the groups marching represented what Fay said was the organizer’s tendency to err on the side of hospitality.

Marching alongside the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, LGBT Families for Immigration Reform and the Gay Officers Action League were groups such as Occupy Astoria/LIC, Veterans for Peace and the Ethical Humanist Society.

The Sunnyside United Dog Society even got in on the action with two- and four-legged marchers taking to the street.

“It’s very progressive and truly inclusive,” Fay said. “People love this parade and the spirit of this parade.”

City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), an openly gay legislator who helped organize the event in its earliest years, said it was encouraging to see the parade grow year after year.

“It’s amazing to see the sea change, the involvement from the whole community,” he said. “All the Irish pubs are having specials. It’s really grown beautifully. I’m very, very proud.”

Fay said he and other parade-goers had the memory of Rory Staunton in their hearts. Staunton, whose father owns Sunnyside’s Molly Blooms bar, where organizers often meet to plan the parade, died last year at the age of 12 from sepsis, a condition that can lead to organ failure.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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