Kieran Gallagher and other members of the “Absurdist Pipe Band” at the St. Pat’s for All parade in New York.
The St. Pat’s for All Parade, which was started in 1999 by Drogheda native Brendan Fay, took place on Sunday last, March 3, in Sunnyside and Woodside, New York.
Over 120 registered groups reflecting the diversity of New York took part in the 20th anniversary parade including Irish organisations, pipe bands, puppets, scouts, immigrant and LGBT community groups.
Drogheda was well represented and the ever colourful Kieran Gallagher and his “Absurdist Pipe Band” were a huge hit with the New York crowd at the Irish Arts Center concert and at the parade. In fact they ended up on the front pages of two Queen’s newspapers.
Brendan’s sister Carmel and PJ O’Brien along with niece Carol White travelled to New York for the historic 20th anniversary.
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“We had a fantastic time” Carmel said. “We always do. There is such a great spirit at the St. Pat’s For All parade.” Its great to see Tom and Brendan. People were talking about coming to Drogheda for the Fleadh in August.”
Carol also said she enjoyed the bands and puppets and going to the concert at the Irish Arts Center and the fabulous Broadway show Chicago!
The parade paid special tribute to Gilbert Baker –creator of the international rainbow flag. Artist Chris Williams created giant puppets of Irish LGBT heroes Oscar Wilde, Eva Gore-Booth and Robert Rygor celebrating the Irish LGBT group Lavender and Green Alliance’s 25th anniversary.
St. Pat’s for All began in 1999 when the exclusion of the Irish LGBT group Lavender and Green Alliance from other Irish parades inspired the multicultural celebration of Irish heritage in Queens.
“I reached out to Danny Dromm and Ellen Duncan in the Irish community. Our response was to create a parade of puppets, diversity and welcome”, said founder and co-chair, Brendan Fay. “I’m part of a great team of committed people who meet for months to produce St Pats For All,” he said.
Irish musician Brian Fleming as he has for the last 19 years brought together artists and musicians from Ireland and New York. Kathleen Sullivan led a coalition of peace groups thanking Ireland for leadership in the United Nations on nuclear disarmament.
Following the parade, Saints and Sinners and other local bars hosted song, dance and music sessions into the evening. "We are proud to be the neighborhood where the world comes together and finds unity in diversity," says Jaime-Faye Bean, Executive Director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.
“From the stage I looked at the large crowd gathered for St. Pat’s For All and I saw a movement that transformed the pain of LGBT exclusion into a cultural celebration of welcome, joy and solidarity, a movement that changed hearts and history” said Brendan Fay.
New York officials at the parade included Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, NY State Senator Mike Gianaris, Queens borough President Melinda Katz, NY State Assembly member Catalina Cruz, NY Council Speaker Corey Johnson, NY Council Member Danny Dromm and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. Irish Consul General Ciarán Madden represented the Irish Government.