Bay Ridge will go to the kids on Saturday, October 14 as the nabe celebrates its 51st Annual Ragamuffin Parade.
The fun-filled day – during which children can dress to impress and march along Third Avenue with their friends and families for the chance at fun prizes – includes kids, young and old, as well as local organizations, marching bands, vintage cars and more.
The decades-spanning parade which was founded by Cliff Scanlon and Father James McKenna may be geared towards youngsters, but it also has a place in the history books as one of Bay Ridge’s oldest and 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 claims that, unlike other parades that celebrate 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,” he said. “There was nothing like it out there. It was exclusively dedicated to children. It wasn’t like any other parade.”
Since its establishment, however, it has paved the way for others of its kind. “It literally spawned a lot of parades for children,” General told this paper. “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.”
The parade was also formed, General said, as a way 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.
The year’s grand marshal will be Monsignor Kevin Noone, pastor of Our Lady of Angels Church, while this year’s Man of the Year will be Ray Aalbue, chairperson of the Brooklyn’s Kings County Memorial Day Parade.
The two will lead the 51st Annual Ragamuffin Parade, which will step off on Saturday, October 14 at 1 p.m. at 76th Street and Third Avenue. From there, it will make its way to 92nd Street, featuring thousands of costumed children along the way.
Parade President Arlene Keating is looking forward to the big day.
“I am thrilled; the weather report is fabulous,” she told this paper. “Other than that, I know we have thousands of kids – we did our advertising very early with getting registration out and all that jazz. We’re in great shape and ready to go.”
As always, parents can sign up their kids until just before the parade starts. There will be onsite registration on the day of the parade in the Holy Angels Catholic Academy schoolyard from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Judging will take place at the same place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Parade assembly will begin at 12:30 p.m. on 76th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues and between Third Avenue and Ridge Boulevard. Prizes will be given out after the parade in the HSBC parking lot at 9201 Third Avenue.
Registration is free. For more information, visit www.ragamuffinparadebayridge.org.
Additional reporting by Jaime DeJesus