March 5, 2012 By Christian Murray
There were more participants than ever at this year’s Sunnyside-Woodside “St Pat’s for All” parade on Sunday.
This was the 13th annual event and many of the traditional groups that have become a centrepiece at the parade were out in force. There was the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, the Keltic Dream Dancers as well as bagpipe brigades. Well-known gay groups, such as Dignity USA and the LGBT, attended.
However, unlike the past, a number of groups that are part of the Occupy Wall Street movement attended.
“This year there was three times as many participants in the parade than ever before,” said Brendan Fay, the co-chairman of the event.
There were many colorful puppets on display, people on stilts and the canine group Sunnyside United Dog Society (SUDS). Additionally, there was a Bolivian Group, an anti-war group and as well as veteran’s groups.
The parade began at 47th Street and Skillman Ave at 2:00 pm. The day was overcast but it was not like last year when many participants were saturated by the time they got to the end of the parade at 58th and Woodside Ave.
However, before the event started, a litany of politicians had plenty to say.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a couple of words about the “lucky of the Irish” and how the City of New York were supporters of the parade–then left almost immediately. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer expressed his pride at being a gay Irish-American.
State Sen. Mike Gianaris, City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer were among the many politicians who spoke.
Christine Quinn, the council speaker and gay Irish American, never appeared. There were four anti-Quinn protesters on hand who claimed she was complicit in Bloomberg’s decision to add an extra term.
The St. Pat’s for All parade was established more than a decade ago, when 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 parade.
However, gay groups are now just a mere part of the parade; it has morphed into a community event.