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Charities a focus at Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day parade

Rockville Centre resident Jeanie Waters and her service

Rockville Centre resident Jeanie Waters and her service dog, Patty McGrew, wait Saturday, March 22, 2014, for the start of the village's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Credit: Jaime Sumersille

Patty McGrew was groomed and standing at attention Saturday morning, waiting patiently for the start of the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Golden Retriever service dog was wearing a colorful sash, as he sat obediently next to his owner, Jeanie Waters.

“I think the pipes are bothering him today,” Waters said. “They usually don’t though.”

After all, this wasn’t his first time marching in the parade. Two years ago McGrew, as Waters calls him for short, was sponsored by the parade, along with the Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities organization.

“Rockville Centre is a small community, where everybody helps each other,” Waters said. “The parade is really what Rockville Centre is about.”

This year’s sponsored charities included the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. Nine-year-old Sebastian Sugden was among more than 40 people who marched to raise awareness for this rare disorder. His wide grin seemed infectious to the nearby crowd.

About 1 in 15,000 live births are affected by Angelman Syndrome, which is marked by severe developmental delay, speech difficulties and seizure disorders.

“Money donated from the parade will be used to fund and research services for families,” said John Sugden, Sebastian’s father.

The Rockville Centre parade also supported two other groups -- New Ground,  a nonprofit organization that assists homeless families and veterans; and Nassau County AOH Feis and Irish Festival, which is held each year to celebrate Irish culture and history.

Each of these groups marched along with hundreds of other participants along an alternate parade route this year. For the first time in its 18 years, the parade navigated mostly around Maple Avenue. The Village of Rockville Centre is bidding for a road improvement project along that road, aiming to repair the asphalt and sidewalks. Improvements would also include added landscaping and antique lighting.

Mayor Francis Murray told Newsday earlier this week that he hopes the project will start in May and be completed by September.

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