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St. Patrick's parade in St. James draws thousands

Meaghan Cusumano, 3, of St. James, came out

Meaghan Cusumano, 3, of St. James, came out to the St. James 30th annual St. Patrick's Day parade in style on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

Cabin fever broke with a flood of green parading down St. James' main strip as the mercury hit the 50s Saturday.

Thousands of people basked in the sun, clogging sidewalks along Lake Avenue as the 30th St. James St. Patrick's Day Parade rumbled and roared and rolled its way down seven blocks, ending just past the railroad tracks.

"I never expected it to be this big, but we had a beautiful day," parade grand marshal George Powers said. Powers, 66, owns a plant nursery in St. James and helped organize the first parade. "When you get a day like today it brings people out," he said.

Powers was not alone noting the parade's size.

"It used to be smaller, it's gotten kind of tremendous," said Anita Spagnolo, 40, who sold Girl Scout cookies from a table along the parade route. Her daughter, a Girl Scout, was preoccupied with the spectacle.

"It's like a Mardi Gras," Spagnolo said as green necklaces came flying off a truck into the eager hands of leaping children.

Along the shamrock-emblazoned street, fire trucks -- from St. James, Stony Brook, Hauppauge, Nesconset and Kings Park -- shared the road with police bagpipers from Nassau and Suffolk as well as a women's roller derby league and classic cars.

Rocco Rinaldi, 24, a heating ventilating and air-conditioning mechanic from Smithtown, standing with his girlfriend in front of Comiskey Park, a bar whose patrons overflowed onto the street, said the community looked forward to the event.

"Everybody comes out, everybody's happy," Rinaldi said.

For firefighters, the parade ended at the St. James Fire House where Lake Avenue meets North Country Road and dress uniforms mingled with kilts. There, plates laden with corned beef, cabbage and potatoes ensured no one left hungry.

The parade's director, Kerry Maher, said about 100 groups participated in the parade, which is organized by the St. James Chamber of Commerce.

"Mother Nature was clearly Irish today," Maher said. "Lucky and beautiful weather."

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