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Generally Speaking: Third Avenue Fest and Ragamuffin draw thousands!

Looks like once again our esteemed weather forecasters were the ones all wet with their predictions of on-and-off showers on Saturday for the 50th anniversary Children’s Ragamuffin Parade, and on Sunday for the 43rd annual Third Avenue Festival.

There was not even a small drizzle, as both events drew thousands of dry Ragamuffin participants and spectators, and hundreds of thousands of rainless fair-goers.

This community’s Ragamuffin Parade has a long history going back five decades. It was Reverend James McKenna, one of the associate pastors from Our Lady of Angels, who brought up the readily-accepted suggestion of holding a Ragamuffin Parade here in Bay Ridge. It was quickly embraced by his parishioners including founders Cliff Scanlon, Nick Albanese and Ed McCaffery.

Later, at follow-up community meetings, Father McKenna talked about a Ragamuffin Parade he saw back in the 1940s in Manhattan around Thanksgiving which was held by the Madison Square Boys Club. He spoke about how the boys were dressed in their fathers’ oversized old duds and some wore rag-tag garments resembling down-and-out drifters.

The parade here, in later years, morphed into a pre-Halloween event with children wearing their favorite storybook, movie or TV character costumes. However, this year’s colorful march did have a kid in a Charlie Chaplin “tramp” getup.

Among the musical units participating was the championship Fort Hamilton High School Marching Band which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, while the Shore Road school itself is commemorating its 75th. The band was organized by the late Larry Laurenzano, the musical director and assistant principal. Since its founding, it has been performing in local parades, at Disney World and on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Next Saturday, October 8, the Federation of Italian American Organizations will be heralding Italian heritage and the 525th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus when it holds its 35th annual Brooklyn Columbus Parade. The parade route is along 18th Avenue from 60th Street to 84th Street with kickoff at 1 p.m. Grand marshals for the event include State Senator Diane Savino, Assemblymember Pam Harris, CPA Tom Sorrentino and attorney Nicholas Caiazzo.
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