Donning green shamrock glasses and a fake goatee, 11-year-old Ava Hawley marched next to her fellow Girl Scouts in Bethpage’s 23rd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday.
“When I do this, it feels really good to make people smile,” said Hawley, of Bethpage, one of eight girls who represented Bethpage’s Girl Scout Troop 3329 in the parade.
The group has been marching since age 5, when they were Daisies.
Hundreds, including local Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, pipe and drum bands and fire departments, lined up in the parking lot of King Kullen corporate headquarters, east of St. Martin of Tours Church on Central Avenue.
The parade, which ran a little more than a mile, proceeded along Central Avenue, north on Stewart Avenue, east on Burkhardt Avenue and south on Broadway. Following the parade, a reception with a pipe band, Irish dancers and Irish food was held at St. Martin’s.
John Joyce, chairman of the Bethpage parade committee, had been concerned the weather would hurt attendance. But that didn’t happen, as revelers showed up to wave their flags and cheer on marchers.
“I’m Irish through and through,” said Joyce, 73, of Bethpage. “We’re celebrating the culture and the heritage of Ireland. I had phone calls about the weather, asking if we were going to cancel, but the Irish are crazy. We march in anything. It’s a good time. We’ve had the parade in snow, rain and in ice storms, but the parade always goes on.”