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Big Plans for Virtual ‘St Pats for All Parade,’ as Covid Forces Celebrations Online

St Pats For All Parade 2020. (Image: Michael Dorgan, Sunnyside Post)

March 4, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

The annual St Pats for All Parade will take place virtually Sunday, a marked contrast to last year’s event that saw a record number of participants march through the streets of Sunnyside and Woodside.

The parade – which celebrates Ireland through a theme of inclusivity and diversity – is now in its 22nd year and organizers have been forced to host the event online due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

The virtual event will kick off at 2 p.m. and will last around two hours.

The event will consist of a program of pre-recorded music and dance performances from artists based in New York City and Ireland followed by messages from elected officials such as Council Member Danny Dromm and Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

A short movie about Sunnyside resident Tarlach MacNiallais, who died from COVID-19 last year, will also be shown. MacNiallais, an Irish immigrant, had been an LGBTQ-rights and disability-rights activist and the event is being dedicated to his memory.

The final hour of the event will consist of an open live music session played by a variety of participants from around the world.

Brendan Fay, the founder of the parade, said it is disappointing but understandable that people cannot march with their banners and Irish regalia this year. He noted that last year’s event was one of the last major community gatherings before the city went into lockdown with more than 120 groups taking part.

However, Fay said that the upside to a virtual offering means the parade can now be enjoyed by a wider audience from across the globe.

“The parade must go on and we are very proud that it will,” Fay said.

“While we will miss the marching and rolling up Skillman Avenue, St Pat’s for All 2021 will bring us together at a virtual crossroads in a joyful, transatlantic celebration of welcome, remembering and solidarity.”

The parade was founded by Fay and other gay activists who were excluded from marching under a gay banner in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue in the 1990s. Fay, along with others, then decided to establish a parade “For All” in Sunnyside.

The Sunnyside/Woodside event has grown in size and stature over the last two decades and is now considered more of a community-driven celebration of culture and diversity. Last year a number of high-profile politicians spoke at the event including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Senator Charles Schumer as well as Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Carolyn Maloney.

Fay said that the parade has also grown – in part – due to the support of local bars, which have hosted Irish music events each year following the parade. He is urging residents to support them in their hour of need, given the economic fallout of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

While the tunes will not ring out from local bars this Sunday, Fay said that there is an impressive line-up of Irish music on offer at the virtual event from renowned musicians such as Brian Fleming, Mick Moloney, David Amram and singer Liz Hanley.

There will also be dance performances from members of the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance as well as a poem by players from the Queens-based Shannon Gaels Irish football club who are collaborating with students in Ireland.

The parade will be streamed via the St. Pat’s for All website and on YouTube.

For more information on the event click here.

Watch Fay after last year’s parade below.

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