BAY RIDGE – The 53rd Annual Ragamuffin Parade is shaping up to be one of the best ever in the parade’s glorious history, according to the event’s lead organizer.
“It’s going to be a wonderful day for the entire family. I would encourage everyone to come out to Bay Ridge and enjoy our beautiful parade,” Ragamuffin Parade Chairperson Rose Gangi told the Home Reporter on Friday.
The parade, which features hundreds of colorfully costumed kiddies, marching bands, floats and other spectacular sights, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. The parade route runs along Third Avenue from the starting line at 76th Street up to 92nd Street.
The reviewing stand, where local dignitaries will gather to enjoy the festivities, will be located in front of the Bridgeview Diner at 9011 Third Ave.
The grand marshal is Philip Guarnieri, CEO of Empire State Bank, which has a branch at 8701 Third Ave. “He is a wonderful, community-minded person who is a big supporter of the parade,” Gangi said. “We are proud to have him as our grand marshal.”
The Ragamuffin Persons of the Year are Mark and Rodger Loughlin, two brothers who own Ferrantino Fuel. “They’re great people and have always been major supporters of the parade,” Gangi said.
The parade is sponsored every year by the nonprofit group Ragamuffin, Inc.
At the heart of the parade are children. The kids are encouraged by the parade organizers to march in handmade costumes.
The children with the most imaginative costumes will be awarded prizes.
Children must be registered with the parade committee in order to march and to be eligible for prizes. Most participants register through their schools, but there will also be registration on parade day at Holy Angels Catholic Academy at 337 74th St. The registration will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
The costume contest will take place before the parade. The judging will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Even if your child doesn’t win a big prize, have no fear. Every child who marches in the parade will receive a gift, according to the committee.
Gangi, a Bay Ridge native who attended Visitation Academy and Fontbonne Hall Academy, is marking her first year as chairperson of the parade. She marched in the parade as a child and said she has many fond memories.
“Walking Third Avenue with all of those people cheering, it was a great feeling,” she said. One year, she came dressed as the wife of Dracula. “I used to love planning what kind of costume I was going to wear,” she said.
Gangi said she is looking forward to seeing the creativity of today’s children. “The costumes are usually fantastic. We’ve had kids dressed as Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, macaroni and cheese. One kid came as an entire hot dog stand,” she said.
The Ragamuffin Parade is one Bay Ridge’s most beloved traditions and a highlight of the community’s fall season.
The first Ragamuffin Parade took place in 1966.
The parade was founded at the behest of two men, Rev. James McKenna, a priest at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church at 7320 Fourth Ave., and Cliff Scanlon, a Bay Ridge civic leader who was a parishioner of the church.
Both men were eager to take the Bay Ridge community’s mind off the incessant drumbeat of crime that plagued headlines during the turbulent Vietnam-era 1960s. They wanted to hold a joyful event where families could get together and kids could have fun.
At the inaugural parade, the participants were mostly children of Our Lady of Angels parishioners and the parade route ran along Fourth Avenue from 67th Street to Bay Ridge Parkway, passing the church along the way.
By 1967, the parade’s second year, the event expanded beyond Our Lady of Angels Church to include the whole neighborhood.
In honor of the parade’s 50th anniversary in 2016, New York City officially co-named the corner of Third Avenue and 74th Street, down the block from Our Lady of Angels, “Ragamuffin Way.”