It was cool, cloudy and windy last Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop village residents from turning out in force to watch the 17th annual St. Patrick’s Parade.
An estimated 6,000 green-adorned spectators lined Maple Avenue to watch friends, loved ones and organizations from all over the area celebrate their Irish roots, and to support this year’s sponsored charities: the Jillian E. Daly Foundation, the Greater New York Chapter of the ALS Association, and Crosscare of Dublin, Ireland. Another 4,000 or so joined the crowd after the parade for Irish specialties at local bars and restaurants.
Many came early to find the best spots along the parade route, bringing folding chairs, blankets and picnic supplies. The Village Green was crowded with children tossing balls back and forth, and across from the police station, a radio playing traditional Irish music moved one laughing couple to attempt a jig. Shamrocks and Irish flags waved in almost every hand, and some of the houses along the parade route sported green garlands, cardboard leprechauns and the Irish tricolor.
At noon, Grand Marshal Thomas Glynn, a lifelong Rockville Centre resident, led the parade from Long Beach Road down Maple to the grandstand across from St. Agnes Cathedral, where Mayor Francis Murray and other notables awaited the marchers.
Fire departments, pipe corps and groups ranging from the Vietnam War Veterans Association to the Hagen School of Irish Dance turned out to celebrate the day. The public officials in attendance included U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, marching before placards that read, “Senator Schumer Salutes the Irish,” and encouraging spectators to remember the troops overseas, and a Kelly-green sweater-clad County Comptroller George Maragos, who waved to the crowd.
Not all of the marchers were local. Jim and Tom Donovan, of the Knights of Columbus Co. 126 Pipes and Drums, came from Brooklyn’s Gerritsen Beach, as they do every year. “We have Irish roots, and take a lot of pride in playing and seeing people come out,” said Tom, a snare drummer in the company’s Donovan Drum Corps. “We take pride in doing positive things for this community and with our family.”