Dozens of towns, villages and hamlets across Long Island vie to have the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade. Not Amagansett.
Starting several years ago, with the inaugural “Am O’Gansett” Parade (the first one went from Indian Wells Tavern to the Stephen Talkhouse, a half a block away), Amagansett has been claiming to organize the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade on Long Island. In doing so, it joins with several small communities world-wide, including tiny Dripsey in County Cork, Ireland, that have organized comically short parades in honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. In keeping with the alcohol-related customs of the holiday, many of these mini-parades begin at one bar and end at the next.
Amagansett’s parade has gotten a little longer than that—this year it will follow Montauk Highway from Mary’s Marvelous down to the Gulf station and back again—and it isn’t so beer-centric. The 2015 Am O’Gansett Parade takes place this Saturday, March 14, starting at 12:01 p.m. on the dot. The brevity of the parade, the shortness of the parade route and the insistence on a 12:01 start time—these are some of the eccentricities that distinguish Amagansett from all of the other St. Patrick’s destinations on Long Island. In addition, while other St. Patrick’s Day parades follow the tradition of electing a prominent local Irish-American as a grand marshal, the Am O’Gansett organizers have up until now treated Irish lineage as a disqualifier for that esteemed position.
“I’m breaking down that barrier,” says 2015 Grand Marshal Michael Clark of Crossroads Music in Amagansett. Clark believes he is the first grand marshal to claim any Hibernian heritage at all—he’s half Irish. “I had to promise the organizers it would be my German half acting as grand marshal, though.”
“It was between me and Beyoncé,” explains Clark, “and I beat her in the bathing suit competition.”
In all seriousness, Clark feels honored and touched to have been asked to lead this year’s parade. “I’m tickled pink,” he admits, although he allows that he might really be tickled green. Clark emphasizes that, while there are certainly tongue-in-cheek aspects to the Am O’Gansett celebration, it’s not intended to belittle or make light of any tradition. “This is a true community event,” he says. “Last year, the whole Amagansett School was the grand marshal.” But since the theme of the 2015 parade is music, it seems natural that Clark was asked to lead it.
Marching along with Clark will be the usual assortment of fire departments and local officials. But instead of your familiar marching brass band or Irish music, this year’s parade will introduce a signature feature specifically related to Crossroads Music.
“For the last seven years or so, Crossroads has been known for having acoustic jams at the store,” Clark says. “A lot of bands have come together as a result of these, and so we’re inviting guitarists, harmonica players, and anyone who has an instrument they can march with to come down and join in. We’ll probably play ‘Wagon Wheel’ or some other song that everybody knows.” The music will continue post-parade at a pair of afterparties. At Crossroads Music, the band Method 2 Madness will perform, followed by an open mic. Meanwhile, across the street at Innersleeve Records, Red Tide will entertain. In comparison to some local St. Patrick’s Day celebrations you might think of, the Am O’Gansett has evolved into quite a family-friendly affair.
“I just think it’s the greatest thing,” Clark says. “At Crossroads, our big mantra has always been ‘community.’ What’s more community than a village parade?”