BAY RIDGE – The preparations for the annual Ragamuffin Parade begin long before the big march takes place. In one of the major pre-parade events, hundreds of people gathered at the Bay Ridge Manor on Sept. 22, six days before the big march, for a luncheon to salute the grand marshal and the Ragamuffin persons of the year.
“It was a beautiful afternoon. We had a large turnout,” Ragamuffin President Rose Gangi told the Home Reporter on Monday.
At the luncheon, Gangi officially presented Philip Guarnieri, CEO of Empire State Bank, as the grand marshal of the 2019 parade. She also introduced Mark and Rodger Loughlin, the owners of Ferrantino Fuel, as Ragamuffin Persons of the Year.
The luncheon, like the parade, is sponsored by Ragamuffin Inc., the non-profit group that organizes the parade.
This year marks the 53rd annual Ragamuffin Parade. The fun-filled event features hundreds of adorable costumed kiddies marching up Third Avenue to the cheers of thousands of spectators lining the streets.
The parade will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28, beginning at 1 p.m., on Third Avenue. The parade starts at 76th Street and ends at 92nd Street.
In addition to introducing the parade honorees, the luncheon serves as a fundraiser for the parade. “We are grateful to all of the people for helping us raise money for our parade,” Gangi said.
U.S. Rep. Max Rose, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Councilmember Justin Brannan, attended the luncheon to congratulate the honorees, as well as Gangi and the parade committee. “The support from our elected officials means everything to us,” Gangi said.
Brannan recently secured a $5,000 grant for the parade.
“We’re so grateful to him,” Gangi said. “The grant will allow us to have a lot of wonderful things for children this year.”
Brannan, who was born and raised in Bay Ridge, said it’s important to keep local traditions like the Ragamuffin Parade alive.
“I still consider myself a kid from Bay Ridge, so now as an elected official, I try to do everything I can to support these great traditions so that we can keep them going for future generations to enjoy,” he told the Home Reporter in an email.
Brannan recalled marching in the Ragamuffin Parade as a child. “I remember as if it were yesterday dressing up as Luke Skywalker for the parade one year. I used an old bathrobe and we took an old shower curtain rod and painted it blue to make the lightsaber. It’s a great time of year and a great tradition. I’m so lucky to be a part of this great community,” he said.
In recent years, Brannan has found a playful way to be a part of the parade, even though he’s a grownup now. He and his wife, Leigh Holliday Brannan, portrayed Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and rode a float in the many parades.