It was a sea of emerald green as revelers from all across the borough came to Park Slope on Sunday, March 17 for the 44th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade which, for the first time this year, featured an Irish LGBTQ+ group in its line of march.
The festivities commenced at 9 a.m. with a pre-parade Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 245 Prospect Park West. It was followed by a breakfast in the church hall at 10 a.m.
At 12:35, before the parade step-off, a wreath rededication ceremony was held at Prospect Park West and 15th Street, in honor of the heroes and victims of the World Trade Center September 11 attacks.
Then, at 1 p.m., Brooklyn’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade took off from 15th Street and Prospect Park West, heading down 15th Street to Seventh Avenue, then along Seventh Avenue to Garfield Place and back to Prospect Park West, returning to 15th Street.
Bernadette Buckley Kash, of the Buckley School of Irish Dance was the parade grand marshal.
“Back in 1975, I marched in the very first Park Slope parade and I’m blessed to have marched in every one since,” she said. “My family celebrated being Irish 12 months of the year. It was our way of life.”
The aides to the grand marshal this year were John Brennan, Christopher Coughlin, Ann Duffy Dolan, Rita Donlon, Martin Dunne, James Hart, Scott Richard Lloyd, Audrey Mullins and Mary Nolan.
This year marked the first time an Irish LGBTQ+ group was allowed to march in the parade. Thanks to the co-founders of Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ+ Organization (BILO), Lisa Fane and Matthew McMorrow, and Assemblymember Robert Carroll, the parade committee voted to allow the group to march in the parade.
“My grandfather founded this parade to commemorate the American bicentennial and to celebrate the Irish and the contributions of Irish Americans to this country, and I know that he would be proud to know that it is now welcoming to all,” Carroll told this paper.
“I am so glad that everyone was able to come together to honor Irish heritage and culture and make this the first fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade in Brooklyn,” Carroll added.
Carroll presented Kash with a proclamation from the New York State Assembly and citations to all the aides.
Also participating in the parade were Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who marched alongside BILO, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke and Assemblymember Felix Ortiz.
“It feels great to be here,” Clarke told this paper. “The community has come out in full fledge. We are celebrating the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ contingency. This is a historic day here in Brooklyn for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and we feel whole. We feel that the entire Irish family has come together to celebrate culture, to celebrate contribution to the growth and development of our nation and of our town Brooklyn and it’s a great day.”
Ortiz saw a bond between what the Irish went through and what Hispanics are going through today.
“Today brings respect to the Irish who came to this country and it’s interesting to see what is happening today in America. The Irish suffered a lot as immigrants coming to this country, the same way Hispanics are today.”
Carroll called it an absolutely wonderful day.
“This is always a big and important event in my family calendar every year, and so being able to be here is very, very special,” Carroll said. “And of course this being the first parade that’s fully inclusive makes it all the more so because it’s so important when you are given the responsibility to represent people that you represent everyone. You try to bring people together and move us forward, and that’s what we were able to do this year which I’m so, so proud of.”