Look closely at Main Street, Hampton Bays, at any point during the year, and you’ll notice a green line painted in between the double yellow.
Like many Long Island towns, Hampton Bays hosts an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. But the 2014 edition, on Saturday, March 22, promises to be a bit more special than those in years past. The Hampton Bays parade celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. And marching prominently among the sea of green will be a meaningful selection for grand marshal—the men and women of the armed forces.
Having the parade celebrate 10 years “shows that the community supports what we do,” says John Ryan, the chief organizer for the event. “It’s not just about the Irish, it’s about the community.” The parade is put on annually by the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, Michael Collins Division 11. It kicks off at 11 a.m. at the Hampton Bays Elementary School on Ponquogue Avenue, goes down Montauk Highway and turns west to the reviewing stand, ending in the Hampton Atrium parking lot.
Leading the pack of floats and bands will be local, active duty military members. “They should be honored, because our freedoms and rights are because of what they do,” Ryan says. “Our ability to participate [in the parade] is because of what they do.” Marching in the parade will be a representative of the Marine Corps, a number of Army generals, a coastguardsman and an airman. “We haven’t been able to get a Navy guy,” Ryan laments. (If anyone from the Navy would like to participate, they’re invited to contact the Ancient Order of the Hibernians at firstname.lastname@example.org.) But, he adds with pride, “Some [of the invited marchers] just came back from Afghanistan.”
Parade revelers can expect a “diverse group of characters,” Ryan says. In addition to the requisite pipe bands, which come from all over the Island, and fire departments, the parade will feature Shinnecock tribal dancers, a host of kids groups and local merchants and businesses. “We treat our parade like home,” Ryan says. “It’s a very family-oriented parade.” Ryan boasts that the parade has received nothing but compliments from the community, and in the past nine years, there has been “not one bad thing.”
With more than 50 organizations, the parade is expected to last an hour and a half. For those who prefer to watch while raising a pint, Buckley’s Inn Between on Montauk Highway will again set up an outdoor bar in its parking lot.
Punctuating the feeling that Hampton Bays’ parade prides itself on being community-friendly, Ryan adds that he “really appreciates the extra effort put in by the Southampton Town Police, Parks and Recreation Department, Highway Department and the Town Board for approving the parade.”