Centennial Celebration
St. Pat's for All Celebration

Queens Gazette - March 09, 2017

by THOMAS COGAN

The 18th annual St. Pat’s for All Parade took place on March 5th, on a cold and sunny afternoon.

The parade, which began as an experimental, risky and mildly controversial event, is now a Queens institution.

It looked quite sturdy the other day. In years past it seemed at times a waning thing, having lost novelty value as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cause gained strength, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade cadre in Manhattan found it harder to maintain its resistance to demands it give a gay group or two permission to march up Fifth Avenue with everyone else every March 17th. Finally, it relented.

There were several elected officials present at the parade, which made its way up the middle of Skillman Avenue to 43rd Street, including state Senator Michael Gianaris, who declared, as he declares every year, that he has never missed a St. Pat’s. Council Member Daniel Dromm was present and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer praised “our Queens values.”

Someone from outside Queens but dedicated to this parade, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, had a broad message of inclusion, offering friendship to Muslims. Public Advocate Letitia James said a boisterous, “Happy St. Pat’s for all!” and Borough President Melinda Katz promoted empathy by urging everyone to believe that “We are LGBT,” while hoping everyone would have a “great, great, great parade!”

City Comptroller Scott Stringer had a stronger report to convey. He said his office sent letters to the legislatures of North Carolina and Texas, denouncing their anti-transgender “bathroom bills,” and warning them to be ready to lose a lot of money as businesses withdraw from activities in their states because of their legislative actions. Former Lower Manhattan state Senator Tom Duane, who is gay and HIV positive, said protections for LGBTs are still lacking and that the Queens parade is needed more than ever. He said Queens has the right “political will.” Mac McMorrow, an LGBT advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, said the mayor was unable to attend the parade, to which he’s been true for years, but McMorrow bore a Proclamation from him, naming the day St. Pat’s for All Day.

Then came the two Grand Marshals of the parade. One was Anastasia Somoza, a young woman who has been disabled all her life and an activist nearly that long, having spoken at a Democratic Convention and marched in the first St. Pat’s Parade in 2000. Another parade-goer was television personality and parade Grand Marshal Phil Donahue.

We’re all God’s kids,” shouted Donahue, then called himself “a brave Irishman, and a brave Catholic” for attempting to sing both verse and chorus of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”

There was dancing by the students at the Niall O’Leary School of Dance, and then it was time for the parade to begin.

Also present was Sunnyside Chamber’s Pat Dorfman and the parade’s founder, Brendan Fay. At the head of the parade were the FDNY bagpipers who led the procession to the termination point at 39th Avenue and 54th Street.

This year’s band on the sound truck called itself the “St. Pat’s for All Stars,” though the two women on electric harp and electric ukulele otherwise go by the name, “Diddly Idols.” Other musicians included the “Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps.”