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Parade plea

With the economy lame, the parade's committee is turning to the Irish American community in New York and beyond hoping that boots on the ground on the big day will be reflected by bucks in the bank in the run-up to it.

"St. Patrick's Day is profoundly meaningful for Irish immigrants and Irish Americans and we proudly march up Fifth Avenue every March 17 as a lasting testament to our unwavering pride of being Irish," said parade committee secretary, Hilary Beirne, in a statement this week.

"What is truly remarkable about the parade is the awe-inspiring duty of keeping the parade alive that has been passed from one generation to the next for the past 249 years," said Beirne.

Successive parade committees, he said, had met this challenge.

"But like most non-profit organizations the worsening economy has had an impact. To counteract this, we launched an online donation campaign and seal program last year. This year we launched an online newsletter and formed alliances with companies which will benefit parade participants and the parade. We will also host a golf outing in the fall. All of these additional activities have helped us raise funds.

"But we want people to note that the parade is a registered non-profit organization and 100 percent of donations are tax-deductible and will help fund the world's oldest and most cherished parade," said Beirne.

Donations, according to Beirne, can be made online at the parade website NYCStPatricksParade.Org, or by mailing a check to the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee office at PO Box 295, Woodlawn Station, Bronx, NY 10470.

"From the very first time we marched on Saint Patrick's Day in 1762, the parade is truly the best of our Irish culture, faith and heritage coupled with American freedom. We ask that everyone be a part of the greatest and oldest tradition in New York City," said Beirne.

Meanwhile, while many of the boots on the avenue this year will be military, not all of them will be American. Members of the Irish Army's 58th Reserve Infantry Battalion will be landing in New York to take part in the parade.

The battalion has an area of operations covering counties Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. The counties will be a little more lightly defended on the 17th as over 30 members of the 58th will be taking part in the New York parade.

Commandant Gerry Jordan told the Sligo Champion newspaper that the visit is being prompted in part due to a Sligo connection to New York's famed Fighting 69th Regiment.

"There are strong ties with the 69th Regiment and one of its most famous generals is Michael Corcoran a native of Carrowkeel, Ballymote, County Sligo," said Jordan.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a monument to the Fighting 69th in Ballymote in August 2006. The monument incorporates a piece of steel from the World Trade Center donated by the family of Michael Lynch, who died in the Twin Towers on September 11.

"In acknowledgement of the honor shown by the 58th Reserve Infantry Battalion to Mayor Bloomberg and also to Major General Vincent E Boles, U.S. Army, who visited Ballymote in 2009, the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee and the 69th Infantry Regiment invited us to take part in the 2010 Parade," said Jordan.

""This is truly a great honor and privilege," he said.

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