Marching Season

“Marching season” traditionally describes the summertime Protestant parades in Northern Ireland. My husband’s cousin and other Irish-American Catholics have repurposed the term to characterize the local parades that precede the famed NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. These small parades feature numerous pipe and drum bands, step dancers, Irish societies, volunteer and professional firefighting units, unions, antique cars, and political and religious dignitaries.

The annual Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade is held in the Rockaways, a piece of New York City once known as the “Irish Riviera.” Occurring the wintry first Saturday in March, the parade leaves from St. Francis de Sales Catholic Academy on Beach 129th Street, travels down wind-whipped boulevards, and concludes at St. Camillus Catholic Academy on Beach 100th Street. The Rockaway Parade, as it is commonly called, is an opportunity to both celebrate and perform Irishness, a yearly demonstration of the desire to close the gap between American soil and the Irish homeland.