The Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 17 of Long Beach is set to host the 28th annual Saint Brendan the Navigator Long Beach Irish Heritage Day Parade and Festival on Saturday.
The parade, one of the largest in the city, steps off at 11 a.m. sharp at Washington Boulevard and West Beech Street and concludes at Ohio Avenue.
The festival — which celebrates Irish culture — begins at 10 a.m. and will run along West Beech Street until 5 p.m.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1384 Commander Daniel McPhee will serve as the grand marshal of the parade, and his aides will be AOH members Joan Duffy, Edward Henry, Malachy McGarry and Brian Wheeler.
“When [the AOH] asked me, I had to think about it,” McPhee said. “I had to make sure I deserved it, and I figured that I’m a fairly good role model for the children here in Long Beach.”
The parade, which traditionally attracts thousands of people, will feature pipe bands, marching bands and school bands as well as veteran, civic, ethnic and religious organizations. The festival will offer more than 100 vendors, Irish concessions, entertainment, games, rides, music and dance from New York Avenue to Georgia Avenue.
“We probably spend nine months out of the year preparing for this event,” said AOH President Bill Peyton, adding that there would be an installation dinner for the grand marshal and his aides on Thursday.
He also noted that this would be the first year that the late former AOH President Raymond McCann would not march in the parade. After he died in December, Peyton referred to McCann as “a humble man, a great father and a Hibernian stalwart.”
In 2012, to help keep the festival manageable, the city, the AOH and local businesses reached an agreement that limited the event’s hours, mandated that bars close earlier and required businesses to help cover its costs. The agreement remains in place, city and AOH officials said, and bars will close at 2 a.m. and stop admitting patrons at 1 a.m.
Local sponsors of the festival include the Lancer Insurance Company, Peknic, Peknic and Schaefer LLC, the Inn, the Saloon, Minnesota’s, the Cabana, the Beach House, Shine’s, Whale’s Tale, Speakeasy, The Knights’ Pub, Swingbelly’s, Jetty, Lilly’s and Trainor’s.
City officials said that parking will not be allowed on West Beech Street, between New York Avenue and Connecticut Avenue, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Any problems can be reported to the Police Department at (516) 431-1800.
“The day is really set aside to remember Saint Brendan the Navigator,” McPhee said, “and the community which we serve.”