Rockaways celebrate St. Pat’s Day

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Joanne Smith rides in the back of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association's pickup truck along with a leprachaun. Photo by Christina Santucci
A woman raises the flag of County Limerick as she passes the grandstand. Photo by Christina Santucci
Pup Chloe sports a bowtie. Photo by Christina Santucci
Andrea and Jim Hurley brought their daughter's dog, Lola, decked out in a green tutu. Photo by Christina Santucci
Students from St. Camillus School in Rockaway Beach cheer as they march. Photo by Christina Santucci
Angelina Encarnacion, 7, and Peyton Kalisak, 9, meet Mr. Colombia, Oswaldo Gomez. Photo by Christina Santucci
Glendy Flores, 11, holds Princess, the dog. Photo by Christina Santucci
Patrick Larkin waves an Irish flag. Photo by Christina Santucci
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (l.) joins Grand Marshal Donal O'Sullivan, chairman and CEO of Navillus Cons Inc. on stage. Photo by Christina Santucci
Youngsters Heiley Denoia (l.) and Aisling Glancy perform with fellow students from O'Malley Irish Dance Academy. Photo by Christina Santucci
Members of the Graybeards community group wave from a four-person bike. Photo by Christina Santucci
A New York state court officer carries the Irish flag. Photo by Christina Santucci
Laura Bennan Angeles (r.) was one of several people honored. Photo by Christina Santucci
Honoree Veronica Cassidy Barry addresses the crowd at Beach 101st Street. Photo by Christina Santucci
A man carries an Irish flag past property that was badily damaged by fire during Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
Members of the County Tyrone Pipe Band march in the Rockways. Photo by Christina Santucci
City Comptroller Scott Stringer (l.) marches alongside Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and her partner, Curtis Sliwa. Photo by Christina Santucci
Members of O'Malley Irish Dance Academy perform along the route. Photo by Christina Santucci
Mike Leahy carries his son James in the parade. Photo by Christina Santucci
A leprechaun greets youngsters Leah Angeles (l.) and Jack Brennan. Photo by Christina Santucci
Christina Potapenko helps Peanut keep warm. Photo by Christina Santucci
Jim and Andrea Hurley show off their daughter's dog, Lola. Photo by Christina Santucci
Bridie the dog sports a green bow. Photo by Christina Santucci
Honoree Lily Corcoran (r.) speaks as Michael Benn, head of the Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade looks on. Photo by Christina Santucci

With plans on the horizon to restore the Rockaways’ beaches, the peninsula celebrated its durability and heritage over the weekend with the 39th Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“It is amazing how strong Rockaways has been for the entire borough, and I want to thank you for that strength, that resiliency,” Borough President Melinda Katz, with the beach to her back, told a green-clad crowd that gathered along Shore Front Parkway on a mild afternoon Saturday.

“We’re out here celebrating Irish pride, but we’re also out here celebrating the strength that we know we have deep down inside and the Rockaways proves every single day. Thank you for your commitment.”

More than a year ago, and two St. Patrick’s Day parades after Superstorm Sandy battered the Rockaways in 2012, there is still much to do in the way of recovery on the peninsula.

Construction has yet to begin for the nearly 20,000 homeowners who applied to the city’s Build it Back program for home repairs, according to a report released last week, and for the most part the boardwalk remains little more than a skeleton of concrete supports that weathered the storm.

But plans are in the works to begin next month dredging 2.9 million cubic yards of sand offshore to elevate the stretch between Beach 19th and Beach 149th streets up to 14 feet above sea level.

Parade-goers said it was nice to enjoy the festivities.

“It’s great. It’s always a lot of fun,” said Andrea Hurley, who was celebrating along with her husband, Jim. “It was a terrible thing that happened.”

The procession brought out bagpipers, bands and fire trucks. Clad in green, city Sanitation Department workers received a showering of applause.

The parade chairman praised those who stood up for labor rights and invited to the stage Noel Kilkenny, the Irish consulate general for New York, who declared March St. Patrick’s Month. Kilkenny said he would be spending the time pushing for immigration reform.

“People think that immigration reform is an issue just for Hispanics,” he said. “It applies to the Asians and it applies to the Irish. We have 50,000 undocumented in this country, many in this city. We’re all here and we came here. Let’s make sure that those who are out there in the shadows, undocumented, let’s get them legalized.”

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who campaigned on the promise of creating a Sandy audit bureau, said there was still work to do to restore the peninsula.

“I just want to say we have to respect the people power of this community and the city has to do more — do more to make sure that we keep this community whole and I’m so proud to be here with all of you,” he said. “See you next year.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 12:00 am, March 7, 2014
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