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St. Pat’s for All Parade celebrates 25 Years of inclusivity with high-profile attendees

Photo: Queens Post

March 4, 2024 By Staff Report

Thousands of people lined a sun-kissed Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside on Sunday to celebrate the 25th-annual St. Pat’s for All Parade

The parade, which was established in response to the LGBT community being excluded from marching under a banner at the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade, featured dozens of organizations—including marching bands, dance troupes, community groups, sports teams and children’s clubs.

Several elected officials also took part in Sunday’s parade, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NYS Attorney General Letitia James, Council Members Julie Won and Adrienne Adams, Borough President Donovan Richards and state Senators Jessica Ramos and Mike Gianaris. 

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, NY Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council Members Shekar Krishnan and Lynn Schulman, and State Assembly Members Steven Raga, Catalina Cruz and Juan Ardila also marched in Sunday’s parade along with many others. 

Helena Nolan, the Consul-General of Ireland in New York, and Jerry Buttimer, the chair of the Irish Senate, additionally took part, with Dennis Brownlee, founder of the African American Irish Diaspora Network, and Northern Irish actress Geraldine Hughes serving as Grand Marshals. 

Photo: Queens Post

The St. Pat’s for All Parade kicked off on the corner of Skillman Avenue and 43rd Street at around 1 p.m. before proceeding through Sunnyside and concluding at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 58th Street at around 2:30 p.m. 

The LGBT community is now permitted to march under the same banner in the Manhattan parade and it will also be permitted to march in the Staten Island parade for the first time ever later this month, but organizers of St. Pat’s for All in Sunnyside said their parade would continue to take place every March. 

Kathleen Walsh-D’Arcy, Co-Chair of St. Pat’s for All, said the parade was now an important annual event for the Sunnyside and Woodside communities. 

Our parade is a community parade that has grown over 25 years,” Walsh-D’Arcy said. “The community has embraced the parade. All of the businesses, the restaurants, the pubs got used to having us here and it’s a special day in Sunnyside and Woodside for all of us. 

“Everyone is involved, we wouldn’t stop doing the parade just because we can now march in Manhattan. The purpose of the parade was not only to get us marching down Fifth Avenue, it was to make a statement in Queens.” 

She added that the parade also helps to celebrate the Irish community in Queens.

“A lot of people don’t understand that parades are a very Irish-American thing – not an Irish thing. Irish-Americans have been parading and marching for centuries. The purpose of that is to stand out as an immigrant community and be recognized.” 

Danny Dromm, a former City Council Member and one of the founding members of St. Pat’s for All, also said the parade was hugely important to the local community. 

“Queens is the borough of nations. Ireland and Irish people are a part of that diversity. I think it’s still important that we have a progressive and inclusive parade. We really enjoy being part of the neighborhood and the community,” Dromm said after Sunday’s parade. 

He also noted the progress that has been made for LGBT rights in Ireland and New York since St. Pat’s for All was founded 25 years ago.

“I am now the CFO of the Fifth Avenue parade, so times have changed. Ireland has changed. New York has changed. And that change is good,” Dromm said. 

Prior to Sunday’s parade, a number of elected officials addressed the crowd from a stage erected on the corner of Skillman Avenue and 43rd Street. 

Borough President Donovan Richards, who described himself as “O’Donovan Richards” for the occasion, told the crowd that Queens is the most diverse county in the country and said the Irish play an important part in that diversity. 

“Over 190 countries are represented here, over 360 languages and dialects are spoken here in Queens, and the Irish have certainly helped to build this borough and to build this city and to make it better,” Richards said. 

Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, said Ireland shared a number of similarities with her ancestral home of Puerto Rico and called for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

“One thing that the Irish and Puerto Ricans have in common is that we understand the nuances of colonization and we understand the impact that it has on all colonized people,” Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd. 

“The Irish have always led the way on human rights, unapologetically, around the world. They bring those values to New York City. They bring those values to the United States and it has truly been such a huge part of what has shaped Queens. 

“Queens would not be Queens the way it is today without that commitment from our Irish community to human rights for all people unequivocally and unapologetically.” 

Several groups, including “Veterans for Peace”, carried banners calling for an end to the Middle East conflict during Sunday’s parade, while crowds chanted “ceasefire now” before the parade began. 

Photo: Queens Post

Dromm said it was important to give people an opportunity to speak out about issues during the parade. 

“As a person who was not always allowed to speak my mind, particularly on LGBT issues, it’s important that we also allow other people to have freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. That’s what this parade is about. It happened today and I’m really glad that it did,” Dromm said. 

Irish Senator Jerry Buttimer also called for a ceasefire in Gaza and called on those present to contact their local representatives on the issue. 

Buttimer additionally acknowledged the progress that Ireland has made on LGBT rights in the last two decades. 

A former schoolteacher from County Cork in the south of the country, Buttimer said he could have lost his job due to his sexuality when St. Pat’s for All began in 2000. 

He pointed to Ireland’s historic Marriage Equality referendum, which passed by a landslide in 2015 as proof of Ireland’s progress on LGBT rights. He also noted that incumbent Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar is openly gay in addition to Cabinet members Jack Chambers and Roderic O’Gorman. 

A small pocket of protesters carrying banners calling on Ireland to “Protect the Family” and “Vote No on March 8” heckled speakers during the opening addresses. 

Ireland will hold two constitutional referendums on March 8, including one that proposes to change the definition of family in the Irish Constitution to include “durable relationships” as well as marriages. 

A separate referendum addresses an article in the Constitution which currently recognizes that “by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.” If passed, the referendum will replace “woman” with “members of a family”. 

Advocates for change have argued that the language used in the Constitution is outdated and seeks to contain women in a singular role. 

However, the small group of protesters called for a “No” vote in both referendums. 

The group followed participants as they marched along Skillman Avenue, heckling children’s groups as they posed for photographs at the end of the parade. 

Speaking before the parade, Donovan Richards said it was important for groups with opposing views to be given their First Amendment rights. 

Photos: Queens Post

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Release them now!

INCLUSIVITY MY CULO! This was an anti-Semitic rally. There was no call for the release of the hostages from vicious Hamas. Everyone who attended should be ashamed of themselves.

Basta ya

Nauseating anti Semitic parade. Groups were calling for the destruction of Israel a sovereign nation and native home land of the Jewish people. Apparently hate is ok in Sunnyside when it is directed towards Jews.

Where's Jimmy?

Nasty parade filled with ignorant, stupid people with no knowledge of history. Community Board 2 needs to do something about these miscreants.

Where’s jimmy !

No mention of the hostages or mass rape
What a shock !
We have degenerate politicians


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