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Ronkonkoma St. Patrick's Day Parade attracts crowd of 30,000
Ten-year-old Gianna Cucci, of Setauket and her seven-year-old brother Dillon Cucci waved excitedly to the crowd from their parade float.
Debra Soltan, of Ronkonkoma smiled while saying ‘Happy St. Patrick’s Day’ as she marched.
Donna Hastings and her son Michael Hastings, of Ronkonkoma threw green beads to enthusiastic spectators.
They were all proud of their Irish heritage and among an estimated 30,000 celebrating Sunday at Ronkonkoma’s 23rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus St. Regis Council.
“My favorite part is waving to all the people,” said Gianna Cucci.
Soltan said she has been coming to the parade for years and it gets better every time.
“I love everything about it,” she said, “the people and celebrating.”
The parade route began on Patchogue Road and traveled along Portion Road to Hawkins Avenue, ending at St. Joseph’s Church on Church Street. It featured 95 marching groups.
With excited onlookers on the sidelines wearing green from head to toe, this year’s parade grand marshal, Suffolk County Legislator John M. Kennedy, Jr., waved as he led the parade.
He said he enjoyed attending mass at St. Joseph’s Church that morning and the supportive community.
“This is a great honor,” said Kennedy, 56, of Nesconset, who represents the 12th District. “This is a genuine expression that the people in the community like what I do. I love seeing the people on the sidelines and talking to them. It’s great.”
The parade started as a way to give back to the community and recognize the Irish heritage, according to Parade Founder and Chairman Martin Gaughan, of Manorville.
“I love to see the community come out and enjoy the parade,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see the families wearing so much green and it makes me proud. I am very excited about the parade.”
Parade Coordinator Paula Martire, of Ronkonkoma agreed.
“I have been doing this for 23 years and it’s always amazing to see all the support from the community,” she said. “It takes a tremendous amount of work to make this happen and it is wonderful to see how well it comes together.”