Mayor Expected to March in St. Pat's For All Parade in Queens on Sunday
SUNNYSIDE — Queens will be brimming with Irish hospitality this weekend, as the annual St. Pat's For All parade is set to wind through Sunnyside and Woodside on Sunday.
The parade, now in its 15th year, is known as the inclusive alternative to the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue which bars LGBTQ parade participants from openly identifying themselves as gay.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — who both said they won't march in the Fifth Avenue parade — are expected to attend the Queens festivities instead, organizers said.
"We invite everyone and we're open to everyone," said St. Pat's for All co-chair Kathleen Walsh D'Arcy, who said de Blasio has been a regular at the parade in previous years.
"We're inclusive and progressive and there's a great feeling because of that," she said.
The parade will kick off at Skillman Avenue and 47th Street in Sunnyside and end at Woodside Avenue and 58th Street, and feature traditional Irish musicians, Irish step dancers, piper and marching bands. Youth groups, LGBT groups, immigrant organizations and a bevy of elected officials will march in the procession, D'Arcy said.
"It's very festive," she said, saying the event is "not a traditional parade."
"It's more like a community festival, but it moves," she said. "People have a great time. It's just a lot of fun."
This year's parade will feature an appearance by Irish gay activist Rory O'Neill, also known as the drag queen Panti Bliss, whose recent speech on homophobia has garnered more than a half a million hits on YouTube and made international headlines.
She will also reprise her speech at a St. Pat's for All concert Friday night at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan at 6 p.m.
The parade's grand marshals will be attorney Terry McGovern, founder of the HIV Law Project, and former state senator and gay rights advocate Thomas Duane.
After the parade, a group of 10 bars in Sunnyside will host its second annual Irish music festival starting at 3 p.m., featuring live music, dancing, Irish food and drink specials, according to the group.
The group, known as Sunnyside's Boulevard Bars — Bar 43, The Courtyard Ale House, Maggie Mae's, The Gaslight, Arriba Arriba, Sidetracks, Molly Bloom's, PJ Horgan's, McGuinness's and Bliss St. Station — will be using the event to raise money for the Leary Firefighters Foundation.
The St. Pat's For All Parade will be held Sunday, March 2nd with remarks at 1 p.m. The procession will start at 2 p.m. at Skillman Avenue and 47th Street and end at Woodside Avenue and 58th Street.