SUNNYSIDE — Irish eyes will be smiling all over Queens this month, as the borough gears up to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a slew of celebrations and events for its revelers in green.
On Saturday, the borough's trademark Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade returns to The Rockaways for its 38th year, bringing a bright spot to the peninsula, which is still struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
The parade will start at 1 p.m. at Beach 129th Street and Newport Avenue, and ends by the Irish Circle and Shore Front Parkway, with an awards ceremony to be held afterwards at St. Camillus School.
"I definitely think the parade is going to lift people's spirits," said Mickey McCreesh, a Sunnyside resident who will serve as one of the parade's deputy grand marshals.
McCreesh, a native Irishman who owns Sunnyside's Bar 43, is being honored for the volunteer work he did in the Rockaways after the storm, spending nearly every weekend for months helping the neighborhood rebuild.
"Their spirit is amazing in Rockaway and Breezy Point," he said. "They just pick themselves back up."
Back in Sunnyside, McCreesh's Bar 43 and a number of other neighborhood restaurants will be throwing their own Irish-themed celebration on Sunday.
The annual St. Pat's for All Parade will wind through Sunnyside and Woodside, starting at 12:30 p.m. at Skillman Avenue and 47th Street and ending at Woodside Avenue and 58th Street.
St. Pat's for All was started in the neighborhood 14 years ago to serve as a more inclusive alternative to Manhattan's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
"They have very strong rules about who gets to participate in that," said organizer Dana Cotton, who said any person or community group march in St. Pat's for All.
"The whole point of the parade is reaching out with Irish hospitality, so everyone should be feeling welcome," Cotton said.
After the parade, a group of 11 bars and restaurants on and near Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside are throwing an Irish music festival, featuring a roster of Irish musical acts at each location starting at 3:30 p.m. and running into the evening.
The event will be raising money for the local 51st Street Firehouse (Engine 325/Ladder 163) in a partnership with Guinness and the O'Leary Foundation.
McCreesh said all the bars will be offering special Irish menus, with dishes like corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash and a traditional Irish breakfast. Even Mexican restaurant Arriba Arriba will be serving corned beef tacos.
"It’s usually one of our busiest days of the year, and its always a good celebration," he said.
In addition to this weekend's festivities, plenty of Queens venues will be partying during St. Patrick's Day weekend, March 16 and 17.
The Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria will serve corn beef and have live music both days, and purchase of a $20 mug will get you free refills on select beers all night.
In Woodside, revelers will flock to storied Irish pub Donovan's, where manager Chris Santangelo said they've ordered 25 kegs of Guinness, anticipating a flood of people spilling over from the Manhattan parade.
"That’s going to be a busy weekend for us," he said. "We get people stopping here on the way to the parade, on the way back form the parade, from as far as Montauk to Jersey."
Donovan's had a change in ownership recently, but Santangelo said the new management is keeping the beloved pub's traditions alive: a piper band will play on Saturday, as it has every year.
He said Woodside's reputation as an Irish enclave has lessened over the last several years, but the neighborhood is still a major destination on St. Patrick's Day.
"Woodside had definitely changed, but there's still a big Irish population," he said. "People come here; they know they can come in and get a great pint of Guinness and some corned beef and cabbage."