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Nearly 40,000 celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Bay Shore-Brightwaters parade
The Bay Shore-Brightwaters St. Patrick’s Day Parade started in 2001 and drew a crowd of 15,000.
On Saturday, organizers said the parade drew close to 40,000 people dressed from head to toe in green, eager to celebrate.
The parade route started on Saxon Avenue and Main Street in Bay Shore and traveled west on Main Street, ending at St. Patrick’s Church.
Bay Shore-Brightwaters St. Patrick’s Committee president John Fleming, 69, of Smithtown, was elated to see the thousands of smiling faces in the crowd.
“It’s a great parade. Everyone is dressed in green and it’s great. This parade is not only bagpipers, we go beyond,” Fleming said.
The parade began as a way to acknowledge the large Irish community in the Bay Shore and Brightwaters areas.
“We want to recognize our Irish heritage and this parade is fun for everyone,” Fleming said. “I always get excited about this parade because I enjoy seeing the happy people on the sidelines. It’s gratifying putting this parade together because so many people have made this into a family day.”
This year’s grand marshal was John Cochrane Sr., of Bay Shore, 83, a former state assemblyman and Suffolk County treasurer who was thrilled to participate in the parade.
“It is a tremendous honor. I was born and raised in Bay Shore. I just left a beautiful mass at St. Patrick’s Church and the Hibernian Festival Singers sang and now I am ready to celebrate at the parade,” he said.
With his 6-year-old son, Bobby Kerr, sitting high on his shoulders, Bob Kerr, of Fire Island, marched in the parade along with other students and parents from St. Patrick’s School in Bay Shore.
“I love hanging out with the kids and the weather is great today. We are having fun,” he said.