A few inches of snow weren’t enough to deter Queens residents from the 16th annual St. Pat’s for All parade on Sunday.
“A few flurries never stopped determined Irish people or determined New Yorkers from celebrating inclusiveness and hospitality,” Brendan Fay, founder and co-chair of the event, said before a bundled crowd on Skillman and 46th Street.
The parade, which welcomes LGBTQ groups, attracted residents, area organizations and elected officials including state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens) and City Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Bronx, Manhattan), Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) and David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows).
Kerry Kennedy, a parade grand marshal, said she traveled to Uganda to fight the nation’s laws criminalizing homosexuality.
“That kind of hatred is legitimized when we in the United States say, ‘It’s okay to discriminate against sexual minorities.’ This parade is the opposite of that.”
She added that Rose Kennedy, her grandmother, had old photographs of signs reading “Irish need not apply.”
“The people of Ireland have a history of being repressed,” Kennedy said. “We know the importance of love over hate.”
Dromm, who helped make the event one that includes LGBTQ groups and residents with disabilities, was one of many speakers who gestured toward Manhattan’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade’s exclusion of LGBT groups — although this year, the Fifth Avenue parade has reportedly allowed “OUT(at)NBCUniversal,” an LGBTQ group, to march.
“Irish people need and deserve and want an inclusive parade,” Dromm said. “I still want an inclusive parade on Fifth Avenue, that is our goal, that is our struggle … we will eventually prevail on that issue.”
Rep. Crowley, who is of Irish descent, said the borough’s parade sets an example.
“The parade on Fifth Avenue needs to open up fully for all people to march in,” he said, adding, “We’re Irish. We don’t let a little snow knock us down.”
Several neighborhood and city groups did participate, including the Greater Astoria Historical Society, Pride for Youth, the Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens, NYC Carriages and Rights for All, an animal rights organization.
“It is a great testament to how tough we are that we are all here in this blizzard enjoying this parade despite the MTA,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “Shame on the MTA for not having the 7 Train running today. Bad service on the weekdays, no service on the weekends, unacceptable.”
Van Bramer also reminded parade participants to patronize bars and cafes in the area.
Mayor de Blasio, who marched in the St. Pats for All parade last year in protesting the one on Fifth Avenue, also spoke.
“This parade to me symbolizes what it means for people, for communities to say we want to set a positive direction for everyone, we are not going to let a past filled with division hold us back,” said de Blasio. “It’s a beautiful sunny day in my world.”