The Ancient Order of Hibernians will offer cead mile failte - or a hundred thousand welcomes - to an estimated 25,000 people who generally attend the 76th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Huntington.
That number might be lower this year as the National Weather Service is predicting heavy rain and high winds for both Saturday and Sunday. But Huntington's parade will take place come rain or shine, organizers say.
Organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the parade kicks off just north of the Huntington Train Station and goes along New York Avenue before turning west onto Main Street and ending at Saint Patrick's Church. It is led off by a color guard—last year it was the Fightin' 69th—and veterans, followed by the Hibernians dressed in full parade regalia including top hats, tails and orange, green and white sashes.
Hibernian Rich McGrath said that the parade line of march won't vary much from last year. That included numerous fire departments, pipe bands, marching bands, step dancers, elected officials, dogs, convertibles, colleens and wee colleens, and much, much more.
Although the parade is not until Sunday, the Hibernians kick off the weekend with the Grand Marshal's Ball, this year at the Crescent Club. This year's Grand Marshal is Michael McCarthy, whose father led the parade in 1969.
A 10 a.m. mass at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church will take place the morning of the parade followed by a breakfast will take place at Finley's.
A history of the parade, courtesy of the Hibernians:
It was the early 1930's; the nation was in the grips of the Great Depression. Finnegans had just opened the day after Prohibition ended to cater to the growing population of Irish workers. Down the street, Valencia Tavern opened the same day to cater to the Italian laborers. Although times were tough, a great community tradition was started when the entire town came together to celebrate the first St. Patrick's Day Parade held on Long Island.
Seventy-six years later, thanks to the Huntington Ancient Order of Hibernians, Huntington residents continue to come together to celebrate the unofficial start of spring on the second Sunday of March.
Over the past 76 years, the parade has grown to become the oldest and largest on Long Island. While there are only a few folks around who remember that first St. Patrick's Day Parade, they will tell you that it is the day Huntington puts her best face forward and everyone has a wee bit of Irish in them.
Each year up to 25,000 current and former residents jam Huntington Village for this wonderful family and community event. More important than ever, the Parade is also a tremendous catalyst to the local Huntington economy, with spectators packing the local restaurants, shops, and pubs. With the current rough economic times, "buying local" not only feels good it helps all of us.
The core of the Parade is of course the Bagpipe bands, and no parade on Long Island can match the Huntington's line-up with bands from all over the Island. This year the Parade will include over 25 marching bands. See the complete Line of March in the center section for a complete list.
Although the Scots lay claim to the bagpipe, the bagpipe existed in Ireland long before Scotland. It was used during religious celebrations, funerals and to assemble villagers and town's people in time of emergences and in time of war. So, when you hear the sounds of the pipes being played it will touch the hearts of all who listen and remind us of the Irish of centuries ago who fought for freedom in this country and in Ireland.
The Huntington Ancient Order of Hibernians will once again, as is this their custom, march dressed in their distinctive gray morning suit tuxedos. "We take a great deal of pride in putting on the Parade," said AOH President Dominick Feeney, Jr., whose grandfather was a founding father of the current Huntington AOH. "We work hard to make sure the Saint Patrick's Day Parade is a wonderful Huntington community event."
Standing Chairman, Rich McGrath adds, "many residents mistakenly think the Town sponsors the parade each year, but in truth it's actually the Hibernians who organize, promote, run and raise the money needed to pay for all the expenses associated with putting on this spectacular parade. Each year, the Hibernians go door to door soliciting donations from local businesses for advertisements which appear in this special St. Patrick's Day Parade edition of the local newspaper. It is these generous ad sponsors that enable us to run the parade, so we hope folks support their businesses."
The Parade honors Saint Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, who converted the pagan Celts to Christianity around the year 430 A.D. St. Patrick founded the cathedral church of Armagh, and it soon became the center of the Church's activities in Ireland. During his three decades in Ireland, he raised the standards of scholarship, encouraged the study of Latin and brought Ireland into closer relations with the rest of the Western Church until his death on March 17, in 461 A.D.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a national Irish-American Catholic organization that was founded in New York City in 1836 and whose roots can be traced back to Ireland. The AOH. Is dedicated to preserving Irish heritage. Their motto is "Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity," and a large portion of their work is devoted to charity. In the past few years, the Huntington AOH has raised tens of thousands of dollars for various charitable organizations including being one of the leading donors to the town's eight local parish food pantries. The Division funds educational scholarships foe the two colleens, as well as a high school educational scholarship for a St. Anthony's high school student.
If you, or anyone you know, are interested in joining the Ancient Order of Hibernians please have them call 631-261-8293. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at the VFW/AOH Hall at 210 West Pulaski Road at 7:30 PM.
The Parade will kick off just north of the Huntington Train Station along New York Avenue before turning west onto Main Street ending at Saint Patrick's School. It begins promptly at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 14.