Bay Ridge residents came together over the weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ragamuffin Parade with an extra special street renaming.
On Saturday, September 17, the corner of 74th Street and Third Avenue was officially co-named in honor of the Bay Ridge institution, which celebrates 50 years this fall.
“Before Ragamuffin, New York City had never had a parade to simply celebrate our youth, our future,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who introduced legislation in the City Council for the co-naming. “As we stand here now, we can officially say that we are a huge part of the Ragamuffin history and that this tradition will go on as long as we have children in our midst. The costumes and creativity may change but the excitement of child wonder this parade produces will continue.”
Gentile was joined at the co-naming by costumed children as well as colleagues in government like State Senator Marty Golden, Congressmember Dan Donovan and Assemblymembers Pamela Harris and Nicole Malliotakis. The national anthem was performed by local resident Sara Steinweiss.
“This is a great, great day. Fifty years of this unique Bay Ridge institution which began here with Father [James] McKenna and Our Lady of Angels, and, I’ve gotta tell you, it’s been great ever since,” said Golden, calling Ragamuffin an “anchor” in an already community-oriented nabe. “It is one of the happiest and best parades.”
The first Ragamuffin Parade technically took place in October of 1966, when McKenna of Our Lady of Angels and several parishioners involved in the church’s youth activities decided to hold a youth event reserved for the children of the parish. According to Ted General, public relations director of the Ragamuffin Parade Committee, the parishioners put together a mini-parade of sorts beginning at 73rd Street and Fourth Avenue and gave out prizes to the children, who were dressed in their parents’ over-sized clothing.
In the years since, the popular Ridge parade has continued to soar.
“I’m still learning about Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and the communities that I represent,” noted Donovan, who was elected to serve the 11th Congressional District just 16 months ago, “but one thing that I’ve learned [about Bay Ridge] is that we’re a community of tradition, and that is a great thing.”
Next, the neighborhood staple’s golden anniversary will be commemorated at a special gala dinner at the Bay Ridge Manor, to be held on Saturday, September 24 in place of the tradition’s usual pre-parade fundraising luncheon. The parade will take place on October 1, stepping off at 1 p.m. from Third Avenue and 76th Street.