Celebrating Saint Paddy’s in Bay Ridge has always been special for locals. Now in its 25th year, the annual Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Parade promises to be a memorable one.
“Even though we’re a little neighborhood in a big city, we think our parade has made a good name for itself,” said President of the Bay Ridge Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee Linda Gallagher-Lomanto, who said around 10,000 people are expected to attend. “It’s one of the best little parades in New York City. Everyone wants to march in it or have some hand in it.”
The festivities start on Sunday, March 25 at 9:30 a.m., with Mass at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, 9511 Fourth Avenue.
Kickoff for the parade is at 1 p.m. at Marine and Third Avenues, heading down to 68th Street. The grandstand is on Third Avenue between 77th and 78th Street.
“We’re celebrating our 25th anniversary parade and it’s dedicated to the deceased past grand marshals, deputy marshals and committee members because we lost a couple of them,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to a great day. All the honorees are very special people that give back to the community. They’re true Irish-Americans and extraordinary people who have everything we want out of an honoree, our Christian values, community service and keeping the Irish culture still going.”
The grand marshall will be Martin Cottingham, president of the Irish American Building Society, which hosts the Great Irish Fair.
“Marty is a true gentleman,” Gallagher-Lomanto said. “He gives so much back. He is one of the key people who brought the Great Irish Fair back to Brooklyn. It was gone for a couple of years. Other than that, he gives to Catholic charities and schools.”
While the borough continues to transform, the prez of the parade feels like the day is a great reminder of what makes Bay Ridge such a tight-knit community.
“I always feel that even though Brooklyn and Bay Ridge are changing, people always come back home for this parade,” she said. “They meet up with friends and they go to local pubs or restaurants. I just think it’s a great day because people look forward to making a day out of it. They celebrate their childhood, where they’re from and their pride in being Irish-American.”
Featured in the parade are over 20 marching bands from schools all over the borough, Staten Island, Manhattan. and even New Jersey.
In addition, “The honorees walking by is always nice,” Gallagher-Lomanto said. “We have a mascot named Seamus the labradoodle and he rides in a convertible down Third Avenue. He’s his own celebrity and this year, his mom is one of the deputy marshals so that’s even better.”
Floats will also play a huge role.
“One of them is the Catholic Education float promoting Catholic education in Bay Ridge and we have all the Catholic schools on it,” said Gallagher-Lomanto. “Then we have our Irish Family of the Year which is the Long family. They are a popular Bay Ridge family. Everyone in the neighborhood knows at least one Long. We have a new float this year called the Hibernian float.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a parade without Irish step dancers, and a few schools will deliver the goods, including the Donnie Golden Irish School of Dance, O’Malley’s Irish Step Dancers and the Buckley School Irish Step Dancers.
In addition, for the parade’s 25th anniversary, the committee funded shamrock lights along Third Avenue. “We wanted to give back to Bay Ridge for showing support for the past 24 years,” Gallagher-Lomanto said.
Following the parade, which concludes at around 3:30 p.m., attendees can find plenty of parties to continue the celebration.
“There’s nothing parade-sponsored but we like to let people know what’s going on,” Gallagher-Lomanto said. “There’s an Irish Rock Band playing at St. Ephrem’s in the school. St Anselm School also has a rock band playing at the school and then if you travel along Third Avenue, you’ll find something. Wicked Monk has two popular bands playing, Shilelagh Law and the Narrowbacks. Every bar is going to be doing something.”
The parade committee hopes the parade can give something back to the area.
“Bay Ridge is mom and pop,” Gallagher-Lomanto said. “We hope that all the parade-goers shop, eat and have a drink along the avenue. Some of the businesses there are big supporters so we want them to make as much money as possible.”
The day’s deputy marshals 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.