Irish eyes were smiling on Sunday, March 26 as hundreds gathered along Third Avenue for the 24th Annual Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The weather was typical of a dreary day in Dublin, but spirits were up as the day started with mass at St. Patrick’s Church (9511 Fourth Avenue), a practice that has become an important tradition for parade day.
Following mass, the parade committee and this year’s marshals — which included Kevin Anderson, Christopher Byrne, Mary Malloy Donnelly, Fran Gillen, Kristen Hayes, Brendan Lally, Kelly MacLellan Byrnes and Brian Xuereb, as well as grand marshal Monsignor Kieran Harrington — all enjoyed the pre-parade breakfast at Hunter’s Steakhouse (9404 Fourth Avenue). There, they were joined by their families and invited guests who honored each of them, as well as Irish Family of the Year, The Horan Family, who beat out the competition in an essay contest.
“We are extremely appreciative of the opportunity to be part of an event which keeps us closely tied to both the tradition and Catholic faith of our Irish heritage,” said Thomas Horan, whose wife Josie entered the essay contest as a surprise to the rest of her family.
The Horans were on their very own float, one of many that joined the endless stream of bagpipers, Irish step dancers and local leaders, such as Councilmember Vincent Gentile and State Senator Marty Golden. Of course, parade mascot Seamus the Labradoodle also rode down Third Avenue in the back of a classic convertible, wagging his tail at adoring fans.
Another parade highlight was a float dedicated to Catholic education in Bay Ridge. Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, former parish priest at St. Patrick’s Church and current pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel who oversees the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn & Queens and Futures in Education, stood atop the float with students from some of the neighborhood’s Catholic academies.
Supporting local Catholic education has become an important goal for the parade’s committee, which is led by President Linda Gallagher-Lomanto. Proceeds from the committee’s raffle benefited their education fund, which awards scholarships to deserving students in each of the local Catholic academies year after year.
Peg Horan, who serves on the Board of Directors of St. Patrick Catholic Academy, was thankful that her family could represent a parade that serves the community that is so important to them.
“I want to thank the entire parade committee for this honor and their diligent efforts towards supporting Catholic education, a cause very dear to our hearts,” she said.
Brendan Moloney, the parade committee’s recording secretary, said, “As a committee we are always proud to see all our hard work come to fruition. We are grateful to all our honorees, sponsors, bar headquarters and all the community groups and bands that march.”
Wasting no time, the committee announced information for next year’s parade, its 25th anniversary. It will take place March 25, 2018 and the committee says to look out for more announcements coming soon.