City officials split on marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

Photo by Spencer Scott Nelson
Photo by Spencer Scott Nelson

St. Patrick’s Day parades citywide are creating a stir.

City officials are divided on the decision to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. But the annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Rockaways brought in a slew of pols including Borough President Melinda Katz, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Last year, after the superstorm hit the Peninsula, then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio attended the parade. This year, the mayor did not participate.

Reports surfaced claiming de Blasio said the Rockaway parade excluded some groups, but a spokesperson clarified and cited scheduling conflicts. He participated in Sunnyside’s parade, “St. Pat’s for All.”

Last weekend’s spectacle in the borough’s “Irish Riviera” brought in iconic curly-haired dancers, marching bands, bagpipes, drummers and more.

In early February, de Blasio announced he would break tradition and additionally boycott the annual Irish celebration in Manhattan after parade officials prohibited marchers from carrying gay-pride banners.

Ulrich reacted by saying the mayor’s decision was “truly unfortunate and disappointing.”

Parade planners have said gays are not banned from joining the procession on March 17, just from declaring any sexual orientation.

Following de Blasio’s announcement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hopped on the boycott bandwagon and pledged to not march, but said individual councilmembers can make their own decision. Ulrich plans on marching “rain or shine.”

“The parade is a time to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland and the many contributions Irish Americans have made to our city, not anything else,” he said. “While I respect the mayor’s decision to not participate, I plan on marching rain or shine.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has said he supports gay rights, said he, too, will join the march through the city, which is reportedly expected to bring in about 1 million people.

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay Irish-Catholic, did not participate in the parade during her time in office. This year, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Majority Leader Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer are among those who are also opting out.

 

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