March 4, 2013 By Christian Murray
A large crowd lined Skillman Avenue for the ‘St. Pats for All’ Parade on Sunday as they watched a multitude of Irish, gay and local groups march from Sunnyside into Woodside.
This was the 14th annual St Pat’s for All parade and many of the traditional groups that have become a centerpiece of the event were out in force once again.
There was the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, the Keltic Dream Dancers, Irish Arts Center, and the Queens Lesbian & Gay Pride Committee.
This was the first year the Uniformed Fire Officers Association band attended, a sign that the parade continues to become more mainstream, political leaders said. The LGBT community, whose Irish members founded the parade, continue to be well represented.
“This parade has evolved,” said New York Council Speak Christine Quinn, who took the podium. “Initially [the organizers] had trouble getting permits for this,” she said. Today, “this parade is an example of success—where a neighborhood community comes together.”
“Parades like this have changed the entire political landscape,” Quinn said, adding that would not march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue., since gay participants are unable march under their own banner.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a regular attendee, said that “the parade reminds us of the progress we have made—with gay marriage passing in four different states in the past year.”
However, not everyone was so welcoming. One woman held up signs condemning the gay community.
There were many colorful puppets on display, people on stilts and the canine group Sunnyside United Dog Society (SUDS). Additionally, there was the Shannon Gaels Gaelic Football Association, Sunnyside/Woodside Girl Scouts and anti-war groups.
The parade went from 47th and Skillman Avenue and finished at 58th and Woodside Avenue.
The St. Pat’s for All parade was established when Brendan Fay, the co-chairman of the event, was not allowed to march on the Fifth Ave parade under a gay banner. In response, he established the Sunnyside-Woodside event.