Next year, not only will Irish eyes be smiling in Lindenhurst, Irish legs will be marching.
The village has announced that in March it will host its first St. Patrick’s Day parade with former Congressman Peter King as grand marshal.
Village trustee RJ Renna said that as more businesses moved into the downtown, which the village has been working to revitalize for years, officials began talking about what other villages do to bring in people.
"A parade provides such a great opportunity for an influx of people into the downtown to help support businesses," Renna said. "But also it provides people with an opportunity to come to Lindenhurst to experience something they haven’t experienced before, an opportunity to express pride in their Irish heritage."
Lindenhurst, previously named Breslau, is often noted for its German history but one of its founders was Irish immigrant Thomas Welwood, the namesake of the misspelled main thoroughfare Wellwood Avenue.
After business owner and Limerick, Ireland-native Dave Crowe opened up Belfast Gastropub downtown earlier this year, conversations with Renna about a parade began and the duo established a nonprofit to organize the parade. Crowe, 61, who helped Rockville Centre start its parade 25 years ago, said he believes the Lindenhurst parade "will be something really special" for residents.
"All I want to do is see a child in an Irish sweater with an American or an Irish flag, just celebrating Irish heritage," he said.
The parade will take place on March 26 at 11 a.m. and will be less than a mile long, winding south from Fireman’s Park down Wellwood Avenue.
Renna said the biggest cost will be for Irish pipe and drum bands, which he estimates to total $12,000 to $15,000. Sponsorships will pay for this, he said, and whatever money is left will go to charity.
King, the grandson of Irish immigrants, was grand marshal of the NYC parade in 1985. While he received criticism for his backing of the Irish Republican Army, King was instrumental in working with President Bill Clinton to facilitate the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which ended the decadeslong bloody conflict between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
"It’s a really great honor," King, 77, said of being chosen grand marshal. "These are the people I represented for many years so I’m really looking forward to it."