As Bay Ridge gears up for a milestone Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the event’s committee hosted its annual gala. The gala – held this year at the El Caribe Country Club in Mill Basin on Saturday, February 3 – serves as both a fundraiser for the local organization and as a means to spotlight the year’s honorees.
“It was wonderful,” remarked Parade Committee President Linda Gallagher-Lomanto. “We had 445 people and, while we raised a lot of money that will go towards the parade, it’s mostly about the community getting together to celebrate our Irish culture through music and dance, and, of course, to recognize the honorees.”
The 2018 parade’s grand marshal will be Martin Cottingham, president of the Irish American Building Society, which hosts the Great Irish Fair.
Deputy marshals for the parade – founded in 1994, and now in its 25th year – include Stephen Gorton, Brother Campion Lally, Greg McGuinness, Brendan Moloney, Connor O’Mara, Mary Koren, Deirdre Cronin-Butler, Angela Connolly-Coyle, Liza Schneider-Lloyd and Mary Manning.
Also honored this year were St. Patrick’s Parish, State Senator Marty Golden, Chip Cafiero, the Clavin family, the Clann Eireann Pipe Band and Jack Malone – all of whom, Gallagher-Lomanto said, were awarded with the parade’s first-ever Claddagh Award.
“It’s a brand new award that we gave out this year,” she told this paper, noting that the award, named after the traditional Irish ring given in representation of love, loyalty and friendship, stands for just that. “It’s for friendship and loyalty and support that we’ve had over the years from these individuals. We wanted to have these people recognized for going above and beyond for the parade.”
In addition, the Long Family was named the Irish Family of the Year.
As for this year’s marshals, the parade’s prez said, “This is a group of individuals who exemplify everything it means to be an Irish-American and to give back to the community that they live in.”
Guests at the gala enjoyed performances from the Donny Golden School of Irish Dance and the famed Canny Brothers Band.
This year’s parade – slated for Sunday, March 25 – is still looking for groups and organizations to march alongside a bevy of bands and floats. The parade will kick off at 1 p.m. and run along Third Avenue, starting at Marine Avenue, down to 67st Street.
“It’s going to be a great day,” said Gallagher-Lomanto.
For more information, visit www.brparade.com.