As the Halloween season approaches, Bay Ridge residents are preparing to celebrate one of the neighborhood’s oldest and most popular traditions. This year marks the 48th annual Ragamuffin Parade — one of the few city parades which honor our borough’s youngest citizens, their creativity and innocence.
The parade – which will take place this year, rain or shine on Saturday, September 27– began in 1967 as the brainchild of two men, Cliff Scanlon, a parishioner at Our Lady of Angels Church, and the church’s Pastor, Father James McKenna. Their goal was to create an occasion on which people could celebrate the youth in the neighborhood, and have a light-hearted day of fun to escape the turmoil going in the world then.
The name Ragamuffin emerged because in the first parade, the children dressed in their parents’ oversized clothing to march around the block, 74th Street and Third Avenue, where OLA is located.
It is there that same-day registration still occurs, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., in advance of the parade which kicks off at 1 p.m. from 76th Street and Third Avenue. Between registration and the parade start, the children’s costumes are judged, at OLA, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with children in several age groups eligible to win a bicycle.
But, no one goes home empty-handed. All children who march the parade route in costume get a free gift.
“The event gives kids a chance to be themselves, dress up and is a fun-filled day for the whole family,” said Ted General the parade’s PR director. “If you go around the country, you’ll see countless towns holding their own Ragamuffin parades which were started because of the success we’ve had here,” he added.
The event is free to the public and has grown in recent years as kids from Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and even Staten Island have come to celebrate this occasion. Many parents who bring their costumed children to the event marched in the event when they were kids, and are now passing the torch to members of the next generation.
This year, the Ragamuffin Person of the Year is Guild for Exceptional Children President Arlene Rutuelo. The Grand Marshal is Monsignor Jaime Gigantiello.