The Bayport-Blue Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade had not even started yet, but twin sisters Aislinn and Erin Parrott were already waving their Irish flags Sunday morning from the spot they had claimed along Montauk Highway.
The 8-year-old Sayville girls, their freckled-faces also covered in green temporary tattoos, have had a busy month. This is the third St. Patrick’s parade they’ve attended this season so far, but their excitement for the Irish-themed celebrations has apparently not waned.
Their mother, Alisa Kremer-Parrott, said the family typically attends between five and six St. Pat’s parades each year, usually starting with East Islip during the first weekend in March and ending with the Montauk parade, which will take place on Sunday. Sometimes they also make it into Manhattan for New York City’s version.
Why so many?
“I’m proud of my Irish heritage,” said Kremer-Parrott, whose maternal grandmother, Elizabeth McEnery, was born in Ireland. “You hear the bagpipes and it goes into your soul.”
Kremer-Parrott said her grandmother was very proud to be Irish, too.
“She didn’t like the color green on her, but she always made sure she wore a shamrock, a fresh one, which was sent from relatives in Ireland,” she said.
Now that McEnery has passed away, Kremer-Parrott said it’s even more important to her that she keeps the family’s traditions alive with her daughters. When their older, she said she plans to take a family trip to Ireland, too.
“I want to carry on the torch,” she added.
Although they’ve attended parades across the island, including St. James, Bay Shore and Rocky Point, the girls both said the Bayport-Blue Point one is their favorite, because they get to see their friends.
“We know so many people here and that adds to the fun,” she said. “I see some of my friends playing the bagpipes and when you yell their name and they get all excited.”
Erin said her favorite part of this year’s parade was the plane that soared down Montauk Highway. (It wasn’t actually airborne, but rather part of the Bayport Aerodrome’s float.)
This year’s parade featured 82 different groups, including 15 pipe bands, and drew more than 20,000 people, according to Skip Pope, a member of the Bayport-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the parade.
It also marked the celebration’s 25th anniversary and as a special tribute, organizers decided not to choose an individual to serve as grand marshal. Instead, Bayport and Blue Point’s volunteer fire departments shared the title.
“We really did want to do something that was inclusive of both communities,” Pope said. “These are the guys that at 4 a.m. are rolling out of bed to save someone’s house and they get zero recognition. It’s time we started to pay it back a little bit.”
Pope said the parade, which was founded by longtime Blue Point resident and business owner Chris Cavanaugh, has come a long way since its inaugural year.
“When it started we had a Girl Scout troop, a Little League, three fire trucks and a garbage man,” Pope said. “That was about it.”
Amagansett's St. Patrick's Day celebration was saturated with live music from local artists from the time the parade began to hours after its conclusion.
Grand marshal Michael Clark led the march -- which locals boast is the shortest parade in the world -- performing an acoustic version of "Wagon Wheel" with a few other musicians and encouraging onlookers to sing along. One float carried local rock band Red Tide, whose hour-long set at Innersleeve Records drew people in from the street.
Harlan Beeton, 14, Sam Grossman, 15, and Anthony Genovesi, 13, have been playing together as Red Tide since September 2013. Their St. Patrick's Day set included cover songs from bands such as Rage Against the Machine, Black Sabbath and Smashing Pumpkins, as well as several original songs.
In addition to playing anywhere they are old enough to get a gig, Red Tide also performs not-for-profit shows to benefit their community. In February, they played a show for The Retreat, an organization which provides domestic violence services and education to the families of East Hampton. They have also played fundraiser shows to raise money for the East Hampton Fire Department. -- RACHAEL FUNK
Irish pride and charitable spirits mixed at the Bay Shore/Brightwaters St. Patrick’s Parade Saturday afternoon.
Organizers for the annual parade, which was held in rainy weather, strive to have as many floats as possible on display for the waving crowds on Suffolk County’s South Shore, with all participants having an eye on helping the community. The Bay Shore/Brightwaters St. Patrick’s Parade Committee awards $1,000 cash prizes to the most creative float and best participation group, with the proceeds going to a non-profit organization in the winner’s name. The winners are traditionally announced after the parade, followed with a trophy and check presentation.
The Heat & Frost Insulators Local 12 union in Long Island City, which has a shop in Brightwaters at RFJ Insulator Contractor, has built a float for the parade the past four years. The float participation is spearheaded in large part by Mastic resident and Local 12 mechanical insulator Kevin Soika, who said the groups charity of choice, should his group grab the $1,000, would be the Wounded Warrior Project.
“That’s a nice chunk of change to given to an organization who deserves it,” said Soika, whose float featured a metal theme combined with Ireland flags. "It's great."
A past charitable winner, Great South YMCA in Bay Shore, was out in full force at Saturday’s parade with a float that featured a rainbow alongside multicolored YMCA letters and green shamrocks.
“[The charitable prizes] helps get the community together,” said John Borromeo, fitness director for Great South Bay YMCA, who helped organize the group’s float. “We have all walks of life participating today.”
Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip took part in the parade for the first time Saturday, with the event’s community involvement a huge attraction.
Theresa Jacobellis, Good Samaritan’s assistant vice president for public affairs, helped design the medical center’s float and said that if they are lucky enough to win, the prize money will go to a charitable foundation established at the Catholic hospital.
“We think this will be our first of many years participating in this parade,” said Jacobellis. “It is great to be part of the community.” -- ANDREW COEN
Street corners held clusters of onlookers, many of whom came early to guarantee the perfect view for Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day in St. James.
“We start at our cousin’s house. Ever since they bought it years ago, we always come here,” said John Burcyk of East Northport. “All of the neighborhood comes out. It’s fun. It’s good for the community and all the people around here. You have a lot of firemen and a lot of children. Just to support them means a lot.”
Burcyk, along with family and friends, waved heartily to parade participants and gave thanks to servicemen from various branches and townships. Bagpipes wailed, police cars honked, and firetrucks shrieked their sirens as scores of spectators clapped and children cheered from under tents and umbrellas.
“This town is built on heart,” said Ken Maher, co-owner of St. James Funeral Home. “The community really knows how to pull together.” -- RACHEL GORDON