Politics and Sunny Skies Bring Out Close to 2 Million for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Sunny skies and no arrests as crowds reached nearly two million spectators for the 263rd St. Patrick’s Day parade.

| 22 Mar 2024 | 12:24

Sunny skies and a parade on a Saturday brought an estimated two million to watch as 150,000 marchers made their way up Fifth Ave. on March 16th for the 263rd St. Patrick’s Day parade.

And as with every St. Patrick’s Day parade, there was a good deal of politicking going on behind the scenes. Mayor Eric Adams started the day with the traditional kickoff breakfast at Gracie Mansion, but it appeared more low key than usual this year. Adams, decked out in a green Aran sweater joked, “It’s O’Adams today,” and noted how the Irish have helped shape the city’s history. “Every where you look, you see your fingerprints and your DNA,” said Adams. “It’s because of the Irish contributions that we consider ourselves the greatest city in the world,” he said, before dashing off to make Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s pre-parade Mass with the grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Maggie Timoney. She came to the United States from County Limerick, Ireland on a basketball scholarship and today is the CEO of Heineken USA.

Assemblyman Alex Bores teamed up with Virginia Maloney, daughter of former Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, to oversee a gathering of East politicos pre-parade at Stout Tavern where the Lexington Democratic Club was holding a pre-parade get together. State Senator Brian Kavanagh was among the few at the gathering with Irish roots that drew former Congress member Carolyn Maloney and longtime Congressman Jerry Nadler. “I’ve been coming to this event since Virginia was a baby,” said Carolyn Maloney. The Lexington Democratic Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Also on hand: NYS Senator Liz Krueger, and city council members, Chris Marte and Erik Bottcher. Borough president Mark Levine was seen hobnobbing with a Community Board 4 member Paul Devlin. Perhaps they were trying to make head or tails of explosive situation at Community Board 5 which saw some high level resignations that sent shock waves through the community boards two days earlier. Levine now has to figure out who to appoint to the newly opened vacancies.

Bottcher in brief remarks remembered how at one time the Ancient Order of Hibernians who run the parade, blocked gay and lesbian groups from marching.

”I remember when gay and lesbian activists would lay down on Fifth Ave. at the start of the parade and get arrested,” recalled Bottcher who said that one of the activists from those days is now the treasurer of the Parade Committee. “It’s a sign of the tremendous progress we’ve made,” he said.

Governor Hochul was not at the Lexington Dem Club but was marching in the parade, at least at the beginning of the nearly two mile trek. Her advance people made sure to have her make bee lines to the sidelines when she saw a receptive crowd. She ducked out less than half way through the parade around 55th St.

Laura Kavanagh, the FDNY fire commissioner took some heckling from pro-Trump supporters along the route, as there was still some fallout from events at an FDNY promotion ceremony several days earlier. The event was marred when some in the audience disrupted the somber ceremony by chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” at a ceremony overseen by NYS Attorney General Letitia James. She was seen as an odd choice to officiate the event by some since she is a state official not a city official with obvious ties to firefighters. But sources told Straus News she had been invited to the event to swear in Rev. Pamela Holmes, as the newest FDNY chaplain. Rev. Holmes was the department’s second female chaplain and the first black women to hold the post. Chief of Department John Hodgens initially said the chanters were an “embarrassment” who would be hunted down, but latter under pressure the firefighters union retracted the hunting down aspect. He made himself scarce at the parade, however.

Despite the occasional heckling, Kavanagh was greeted warmly by Cardinal Dolan when she finally reached St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Some FDNY marchers were joined by families of fallen firefighters marching behind a banner that read “343 Still Counting” recalling the firefighters who died on 9/11 and those that have perished since of 9/11 related cancers. They received one of the biggest ovations of the day. Dolan left his post on the sidewalk outside the cathedral and strode onto the center of Fifth Ave. to bless several FDNY contingents with his shepherd’s staff.

One of the 343 flagbearers was Thomas Smith, who said he lost his dad Kevin Smith on 9/11. “It means the world to me to remember my father,” he said. And the family firefighter tradition continues. “My sister Josephine is with Engine 274 in Queens,” he said.

A short distance in front of him, shaping up on West 45th Street was Leonard Kennedy, who said he was one of 16 firefighters to fly from Ireland where he is with the County Offlay Fire Service to march with his brethren in NYC. “We’re going to Ground Zero tomorrow,” he said.

”We’re from Tennessee,” said three young women named Caitlan, Anna and Nicole, who are students at Fordham University and were attending their first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade. They were among the estimated two million spectators who lined the nearly two mile parade route.