By Ray O’Hanlon
The late Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain to the New York Fire Department until his death at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, is to be honored by this year’s Queens St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The Queens parade, which presents itself as an inclusive event open to all organizations, including gay groups, is set for Sunday March 3.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg will march in honor of Fr. Judge, as will an Irish mayor and both firefighters and ambulance crews from Ireland, said parade co-chairman Brendan Fay.
Drogheda Mayor Jimmy Mulroy will lead the Irish emergency workers drawn from four towns, Fay stated.
“This years gathering will be a poignant one given the Sept. 11 tragedy that changed the lives of our city and world forever,” Fay said.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
“Mychal [Judge] was a man with a heart as big as New York. He was so proud of his County Leitrim heritage and was deeply concerned that we find new ways to build bridges with each other, whether in Belfast or New York. He was a keen supporter of the inclusive spirit of the Queens parade and so we are heartened that representatives of
the fire brigade and ambulance services are traveling from Ireland to join
us this year.”
Mayor Mulroy and fire brigade chief Peter Leahy are due to present a book of condolences to Mayor Bloomberg, according to Fay.
The Queens parade first stepped out in 2000 and this year’s event, the third, is expected to attract a wide variety of community activist and marching groups as it proceeds through the streets of the heavily Irish neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside.
However, not all the Irish residents of the area are happy with the event, which is seen by some as both a rival and riposte to the much larger and more traditional-leaning Manhattan parade.
Activist Patrick Hurley, speaking as a representative of the Woodside branch of the Republican Party, this week described the upcoming parade as “an intrusion into our community.”
Hurley, in a statement, described the parade as “an extreme left-wing demonstration” in the guise of a community-based St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“Unable to interject its extremist agenda into the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and frustrated by the impotence of its demonstrations at the recent World Economic Forum, the extreme left is attempting to misappropriate the good name of the Irish-American community of Woodside/Sunnyside in the advancement of its alien ideologies,” Hurley said.
The parade, meanwhile, will step off from 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside on Sunday, March 3, at 1 p.m. Those interested in taking part or supporting the event are advised to contact the organizers at (718) 670-7039 or www.stpatsforall.com.