March 7, 2010 By Christian Murray
Kids from the Bronx, gay activists, die-hard Irishmen and, yes, plenty of politicians, all turned out for the 11th St. Patrick’s Day for All Parade in Sunnyside/Woodside on Sunday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed the event. He said that “parades ought to be for everyone.” The statement referred to the history of the parade, which was established after Irish groups were prohibited from marching under gay banners on Fifth Ave.
Christine Quinn, the gay council speaker, said the “parade sends a message about diversity, where all faiths and differences are accepted…and hopefully this unity will be on Fifth Ave.” Brendan Fay, the founder of the parade, paid homage to the warmest weather in the parade’s history. “I guess we know why it starts in ‘Sunny-Side’.”
But much of the spotlight was on the two grand marshals: Danny Dromm, the recently elected District 25 councilman (Jackson Heights), who was a former Sunnyside school teacher at PS 199 and has marched in all 11 parades; and Mary Lanning, who runs several non-profit groups that feed the homeless and provide second-hand clothes to the poor.
Among this years participants were The Keltic Dream Irish Dancers, a group of 35 children from the Bronx, who captivated spectators as the speeches were going on. The girls performed classic jigs reminiscent of Gaelic schools in Dublin.
The four bagpipe bands and traditional Irish musicians added to the Irish authenticity of the event; so too, did an Irish language school and the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dancers. Even the local Sunnyside dog group, SUDSMUTS, marched member dogs festooned in an assortment of green regalia such as a scarf with “Kiss me I’m Irish.”
At the same time, there were also a variety of ethnic groups marching under a multitude of banners, representing countries such as Haiti, Chile, Mexico and Bolivia. One speaker noted that the Irish had a duty to help Haiti and Chile in their time of need. These countries sent money to Ireland during the famine.
A plethora of gay groups were also out in force. Among them was Dignity USA, Stonewall Democrats of NYC, Queens Lesbian & Gay Pride Committee and another group that had very direct message: “God made me Queer”.