This year was the 12th annual Sunnyside-Woodside “St Pat’s for All” parade and many of the traditional groups were out in force. There was the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, the Keltic Dream Dancers, several bagpipe brigades — to the well-known gay groups, such as Marriage Equality NY and Dignity USA.
This year there were also colorful puppets on display, more than in the past. Additionally, there were Mexican women and Chilean groups. The NAACP and Veteran’s groups were also represented.
The march began at 47th Street and Skillman Ave while the weather remained dry; however, many participants were saturated by the time they got to the end at 58th and Woodside Ave.
However, before the event even started many politicians had plenty to say – especially since the organizers of Staten Island’s St Patrick’s Day parade had just barred a gay group from marching.
Christine Quinn, the council speaker and gay Irish American, spoke about the inclusiveness of the Sunnyside-Woodside event. She said that one day gay New Yorkers will be able to march under their own banner on Fifth Ave and Staten Island too. She said the Skillman Ave. parade “sends a message that there is a place where all people no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation can march.”
The St. Pat’s for All parade was established more than a decade ago, when Brendan Fay, the co-chairman of the event, was not allowed to march on Fifth Ave. In response, he established the Sunnyside-Woodside parade.
Quinn, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Comptroller John Liu all spoke about how they did not participate in the Staten Island event because the gay group was not permitted.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed everyone to the event and was generally well received.