Heavy rain did not stop the St. Patrick's Day parade in Kings Park. NewsdayTV's Drew Scott reports. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez

A dreary Saturday afternoon didn’t dampen spirits at Long Island’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade of the year.

Despite the rainy weather, dozens gathered at the start of the annual Kings Park celebration of Irish heritage. A total of 18 bands marched, including one from Westchester, said Diana Brown, one of the organizers.

Rowan Oliver, 6, of Kings Park, eats popcorn and watches the...

Rowan Oliver, 6, of Kings Park, eats popcorn and watches the parade with his mom, Kristina Oliver. Credit: Rick Kopstein

The parade, which since 2011 has taken place on the first Saturday of March, kicked off at noon at the corner of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Road before continuing down Main Street and ending at William T. Rogers Middle School.

The gathering marks the first of more than two dozen parades on Long Island in the coming weeks to mark St. Patrick's Day, March 17. On Sunday, there will be three more: in East Islip, Bethpage and Mineola.

Brown, a member of the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Committee, said the parade helps honor Irish heritage within the community. “It’s all about the community, and everybody wants to take part,” she said.

Six floats — three made by nearby schools and another three created by local businesses, Brown said — joined a trail of emergency service vehicles and the music of bagpipes and drums.

Margie Connick, a retired nurse who was in the profession...

Margie Connick, a retired nurse who was in the profession for 48 years, was the grand marshal of the Kings Park St. Patrick's Day parade. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Margie Connick, 76, a retired nurse who was in the profession for 48 years, was this year’s grand marshal. A member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and a well-traveled volunteer in her hometown of Kings Park, Connick said she was “humbled” for being chosen to lead the parade.

Her message to those celebrating the holiday is to do an act of kindness. “It can be simple: Hold the door, give somebody a hug,” she said.

The Suffolk County Police Department Emerald Society Pipes and Drums was among the bands playing Saturday. Member Liam Lyons said the group now has 50 members.

“We’re out here celebrating Irish heritage throughout the whole month of March,” Lyons, of Smithtown, said. “It’s nice to come out and celebrate and enjoy ourselves.”

Lyons, in a rain jacket, said he wasn’t fazed by the weather.

“Work doesn’t stop in the rain, and neither do we,” he said.

Before the parade, the Celtic Crossing Tavern, at the corner of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Road, was a busy place, with dozens coming in and out. While the rain may have thinned the crowd from past years, Irish music, laughs and cheers for the parade’s participants didn't get drowned out.

Ethan Hernandez and Piper Facchiano, both 7 and wearing St. Patrick’s Day green, said hearing the bagpipe and drum bands were their favorite moments. The two waved at the floats and firetrucks rolling down the route.

Carol Ann Foley, 70, of Huntington, said she comes every year to the parade and later follows it up with others across Long Island. She said she hopes the kids who attend get “a good community feel.”

While this year meant watching the bands go down Main Street in the rain, Foley said, “it is what it is.”

“We’ll dry off,” she said with a laugh.

Sunday's parades

  • BETHPAGE Starts in front of St. Martin of Tours Church on Central Avenue, continues up Stewart Avenue and down Broadway, through downtown Bethpage and ends on Broadway at the Showmobile. 1 p.m.
  • EAST ISLIP Steps off in front of the East Islip Library on Main Street and travels west to Irish Lane. 2 p.m.
  • MINEOLA Takes place on Old Country Road, Garden City, continues onto Mineola Boulevard and ends on Jericho Turnpike, two blocks from the Irish American Center located at 297 Willis Ave. The reviewing stand will be west of the firehouse.

— LaToya Rodriguez

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