St. Patrick’s Day Pride Begins

Volunteers of the Mineola Fire Department.

St. Patrick’s Day got an early start on the streets of Mineola this year. Despite being a chilly 35 degrees outside, crowds gathered for the 67th annual St. Patrick’s Parade, hosted by the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, on Sunday, March 5.

Beginning at County Seat Drive at 1 p.m., the parade made its way around Old Country Road, Mineola Boulevard and Jericho Turnpike, featuring a wealth of local talent and worthy honorees. Tony Jackson, a former Grand Marshal of the annual event and a current New Hyde Park resident, proudly announced the groups of parade-goers as they passed, some of which included school marching bands, cheerleading squads, volunteer firefighters and police officers, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and various Irish-oriented groups.

The Mineola and Garden City Fire Departments joined together to raise an American flag at the end of the parade route.

New Hyde Park’s Boy Scout Troop 298 returned to the parade for the third year in a row, and the young scouts were as enthusiastic as ever.

“The kids absolutely love this,” said Troop Leader Rich Pallisco. “They love the whole idea of marching and gearing up, no matter how cold it is.”

Andrew Rezin, another troop leader, said, “You don’t just do things for your own community, you do things for your neighboring communities as well. If they invite you, you go and have a good time.”

This year’s Grand Marshal, Tommy Deegan, was joined by past grand marshals and local officials on stage.

On the main stage, this year’s Grand Marshal, Tommy Deegan, was joined by a range of local officials from surrounding neighborhoods, who expressed their delight to be a part of such a historic and heart-warming event. Before the parade came to a close, all those in attendance were invited to the Irish American Center, just around the corner on Willis Avenue, for a continuation of fun and celebration.

Inside the building, live music underscored a cheery atmosphere and authentic Irish-American pride. Volunteers served corned beef and other food items next to a crowded cash bar, complete with plenty of pints of Guinness. Everyone was impressed by the large turnout, but not surprised that the event was an overall success yet again.

“There’s very few times when most of the community comes out and gets together to celebrate,” said Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello. “We’ve got residents, local officials, politicians and people representing different groups, so it’s a great feeling having everyone together for this one event.”

Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss echoed Nicolello’s sentiment regarding the day saying, “Mineola is not just Mineola. It’s part of a bigger community, and it’s great that we can have people from other communities here to celebrate the Irish heritage. We welcome everybody here, and for the St. Patrick’s parade, everyone becomes Irish for the day.”

Grand Marshal Tommy Deegan thanks those in attendance at the Irish American Center following the parade.
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Nicole Lockwood is the editor of the New Hyde Park Illustrated News, Mineola American and contributing writer for Long Island Weekly.

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