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Rockville Centre’s St. Patrick’s Parade draws thousands

Children watch the Rockville Centre St. Patrick's

Children watch the Rockville Centre St. Patrick's Parade proceed down Maple Avenue Saturday, March 19, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Every year, Dorothea Hennig was among the thousands who lined Maple Avenue to watch Rockville Centre’s St. Patrick’s Parade.

She died Wednesday at age 90. But on Saturday about a dozen members of her extended family were at the parade, thinking of Hennig and watching her son John Hennig march with the village’s volunteer fire department.

“She was a devout Irish Catholic, so this is a big deal for us,” said Jennifer Jaeger, 39, of Rockville Centre, a granddaughter of Hennig.

Other Long Island communities with St. Patrick’s parades this weekend include Brentwood, Farmingdale, Glen Cove, Hampton Bays, Jamesport, Montauk and Patchogue.

There were about 150 units in this year’s Rockville Centre parade, an all-time high, said Jackie Kerr, co-parade-manager.

“This is our 20th year, so we wanted to make it bigger and better,” she said.

The sounds of several bagpipe groups alternated with sirens from volunteer fire department trucks, as onlookers — and some dogs — clad in green shirts and sweaters watched while green, white and orange Irish flags fluttered on light poles.

Sean Haffey, 36, of Rockville Centre, was holding his 5-year-old daughter Madison. He said he preferred the “more family-oriented” atmosphere in the village to the huge March 17 parade in Manhattan.

“This is more to go down and see people your kid goes to school with,” he said.

The parade raised $932,000 for 58 charities in its first 19 years and “we fully expect to reach $1 million” this year, said Bonnie Dreska, vice president of the parade committee.

Some parade-goers had parties planned for later in the day, including Jaeger and her family, who will gather to share memories of her grandmother.

“This is kind of a kickoff to the party she’d have wanted us to have,” she said.

Jaeger recalled what her grandmother told her a few years ago: “She said, ‘A few tears, and then you have to celebrate.’ ”

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