March 7, 2016 By Christian Murray
A large crowd lined Skillman Avenue for the ‘St. Pats for All’ Parade Sunday as they watched a multitude of Irish, gay and neighborhood groups march from Sunnyside into Woodside.
This was the 17th 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 FDNY bagpipe band and the McManus School of Irish Dance; LGBT groups such as the Stonewall Democrats and Heritage of Pride; and local organizations such as the Shannon Gaels Gaelic Athletic Association, Sunnyside/Woodside Girl Scouts and the Sunnyside United Dog Society.
As in years past, the parade drew City officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and State Sen. Mike Gianaris.
However, this year’s parade had a different tone than previous ones, due to the acceptance of a bannered LGBT group – the Lavender and Green Alliance, founded by St. Pat’s for All co-chair Brendan Fay – in the Fifth Avenue parade that will take place on March 17.
De Blasio had high praise for Fay and the Sunnyside/Woodside parade.
“This is a very special parade since it sent a message [to the Fifth Avenue organizers] that we can all celebrate our heritage and pride together,” de Blasio said. “We have arrived at a better place where we will all be marching together on Fifth Avenue.”
Van Bramer said that the St. Pat’s for All parade is what led to the change by the Fifth Avenue organizers to allow the Irish LGBT community to walk behind a gay banner.
“I would like to thank the people of Sunnyside and Woodside who have always supported this parade since it started,” he said.
St. Pat’s for All, one of Sunnyside’s most popular events, began as a predominantly gay-pride parade, organized by a number of Irish men and women who were not allowed to march in that parade under a gay banner.
However, the parade draws participants from a wide variety of local and ethnic groups and will remain a central part of the this neighborhood’s calendar, despite the original protest largely being over.
This year’s St. Pat’s for All Grand Marshals were renowned Irish author Colum McCann and Irish-American philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman.
The parade also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising when a number of Irish Republicans sought to end British rule.