It will be a kid’s world once again in Bay Ridge, as the 49th Annual Ragamuffin Parade returns to the neighborhood on Saturday, October 3. The fun-filled day — during which children can dress as their favorite superhero or character and march along Third Avenue — includes school marching bands, vintage cars and more.
The parade that was founded by Reverend Chip Scanlon and Father James McKenna may be geared towards kids, but it is known as one of Bay Ridge’s most sacred traditions.
“The first one was held in 1967 and that went around the block where Our Lady of Angels Church is,” said Ted General, public relations director and member of the parade’s organizing committee. “And then next year, the parade was brought to Fourth Avenue and ran from 68th street to Fort Hamilton. Years later, they shortened the route. It’s now from 76th to 92nd Street and Third Avenue.”
General states that unlike parades that celebrated heritage or patriotism, Ragamuffin differs because of who it caters to. “When they started building it up in the early years, it was a novelty,” General said. “There was nothing like it out there. It was exclusively dedicated to children. It wasn’t like any another parade.”
Since its establishment, however, it has paved the way for other celebrations of its kind. “It literally spawned a lot of parades for children,” General said. “There was a time you couldn’t find parades for kids where they dressed up. Now they are all over the city and even the Tri-State area.”
Another reason the parade was formed was to give parents a safe alternative for their kids during the Halloween season. “We wanted to come up with an alternative to trick or treating. In the early years of the parade, there were reports, not so much in the Bay Ridge area, that people were spiking apples with razor blades and candy wasn’t wrapped properly,” General added. “We weren’t trying to stop kids from trick or treating. We just wanted to create an alternative and a safe day for kids.”
All kids can march with their friends and parents. “There’s no age restriction. Babies as young as three months old participate,” General said.
Along with costumes, this year’s parade will offer something new for attendees, including celebrating the New York City Fire Department. “Because it’s the FDNY’s 150th anniversary celebration, they agreed to give us engine that will be decorated for the anniversary. There will also be two mascots.”
In addition, the Xaverian High School Marching Band, fresh from their welcoming performance for Pope Francis at JFK Airport, will also perform. And although Christmas is still a bit away, a visit from Saint Nick may be on the agenda. “Hopefully, we’ll also have Santa Claus on the fire truck at end of parade,” he said.
The afternoon’s grand marshal will be Mary Ann Walsh, administrator of the Kassenbrock Brothers Memorial Scholarship Fund and Community Board 10 member, while the Man of the Year honors go to Stephen Oliver, owner of Pipin’s Pub, and a longtime Fontbonne Hall Academy basketball coach.
Parents can sign up their kids until the day of the parade. There will be onsite registration on the day of the parade at the Holy Angels Catholic Academy school yard from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Registration is free. Free gifts will be given to children who complete the parade. For more information, visit www.ragamuffinparadeny.com.