Miller Place/Rocky Point fete St. Patrick
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Irish eyes had a lot of smiling to do this weekend as neighborhoods across Long Island feted St. Patrick.
Spectators at one of the parades, in Miller Place/Rocky Point, claimed viewing spots along the 2.8-mile route long before the 1 p.m. start.
Irish classics "The Rose of Tralee," "I Used to Love Her," "Irish Eyes" and "If You're Irish" were among the music serenading the chilled crowd via a loudspeaker on Route 25A near Harrison Avenue.
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Thousands -- both Irish and not -- came to the 63rd annual parade, where some 61 civic groups, businesses, firefighters and performers marched, sang, danced, hooted, hollered, waved and honked, all to honor St. Patrick, apostle of Ireland and the country's patron saint.
On Tyler Avenue, grade-school girls -- members of the Clarkettes baton-twirling team -- practiced their figure eights, their flourishes, their horizontal and vertical tosses, their parade struts.
Coach Kim Jarett, of Port Jefferson Station, led them through one final rehearsal, behind a barricade.
"I really want to march, and not be cold," said third-grader Clarkette Kyla Dowdy, 8.
The streets were blocked off with barricades already freshly painted with the name of the new Brookhaven Town highway superintendent, Dan Losquadro, who was sworn in only days ago.
Merchant mariner Howard Hawrey, 52, of Miller Place, led his two leprechaun-costumed pygmy goats -- Casper and Poppyseed -- along 25A, much to the amusement of cheering children. Lucy Melville, 47, of Port Jefferson, wearing a unicorn hat and green light-up clover necklace, did a rendition of the Irish lullaby "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral."
The U.S. Marine Corps Band was supposed to perform but canceled because of the federal budget cuts known as the sequester. After an intervention by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the band agreed to perform, then again pulled out.
"Of course, we're kind of disappointed that the Marine Corps band didn't come," said master of ceremonies Neil Maguire, a milkman from Sound Beach.
Not that the absence dampened spirits.
Still Cruisin' L.I. Car Club member Lou Ellen Klints, 72, of Port Jefferson Station, pointed to decor hanging from her teal '54 Lincoln Sport Coupe's hood ornament, one of the vintage wheels that cruised the route.
"They're my shamrocks," she said of the decor.