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A first in Wantagh: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a parade

The South Shore hamlet's inaugural procession to celebrate all things Irish brought thousands of onlookers out on a sunny, brisk afternoon.

The Wantagh pipe-band marches in Wantagh's first St.

The Wantagh pipe-band marches in Wantagh's first St. Patrick's Day parade. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

The scene outside Maureen Tredwell's Wantagh Avenue home was briefly out of the ordinary Sunday afternoon, with jigging dance troupes, bagpipers and fire trucks bearing four-leaf clover stickers replacing the usual flow of traffic.

It was Wantagh's first-ever St. Patrick's Day parade, and Tredwell, a 30-year resident, was not going to miss it.

"They really got the town together," she said, as she watched roadside with her husband. "I hope they have it every year."

Organizers said the South Shore hamlet's inaugural Irish celebration brought thousands of onlookers out on the sunny, brisk afternoon, including those with and without Irish heritage.

"I'm Italian, but I support," said Susan Corvi of East Northport, who came to wave to a friend riding a motorcycle in the parade with other Knights of Columbus members. "I guess everyone is Irish today."

Corvi had another goal in attending the parade: getting her 1-year-old dog Bella used to crowds.

"She loves it so far," Corvi said of the boxer-hound mix, who sat calmly as about a dozen fire trucks rolled by, sounding their sirens and horns.

The route was awash in green — green hats and pants, green jackets and bow ties and bows, green beads and the occasional green wig. Green, white and orange balloons were tied to fences and utility poles behind the clusters of onlookers.

For Josephine Foynes, Wantagh's parade meant an opportunity to watch her 15-year-old granddaughter perform along with the rest of her dance troupe.

"The tradition is beautiful," said Foynes, who marched behind the group in a bright green jacket.

Foynes, who lives in Wantagh, is herself Irish, having emigrated from County Mayo to Queens in 1962.

"Everybody was leaving home," she said of the move.

The brief conversion of Wantagh Avenue into a pedestrian zone did cut into business at the BP gas station along the route, but cashier Shankha Prajapati didn't mind.

"It's nice," Prajapati said of the St. Patrick's Day parade — his first.

He livestreamed the event on his cellphone so his friends in Nepal, where he is from, could watch along.

Jeff Clark, president of the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, said Long Island has around 10 St. Patrick's Day parades.

Although it was the first such parade in Wantagh, organizer Cathy McGrory Powell said everything went according to plan, "even the weather."

Powell, president of the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce, said the event will become an annual tradition.

"It's a great day for a celebration," she said.

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