Snakes on a Plain: St. Patrick Float Brings Reptilian Mayhem in Napeague

St. Paddy's Day snakes
Photo: Surachai Charoenchaidej, Ronda Kimbrow/123RF

A local St. Patrick’s parade turned into a fiasco last Saturday, resulting in the escape and dispersal of thousands of snakes across the sandy plains of Napeague.

Hamptons Police Department personnel, who were on hand to control crowds at the annual Napeague St. Patrick’s Day Parade, called in reinforcements and attempted to corral the escaped mass of slithering serpents—but were unable to recover even one.

“We’ve never had a snake breakout of this magnitude,” Hamptons Police Dept. spokesman Larry Hirsch said. “Our officers did great work trying to catch those guys, but we were outnumbered.”

According to eyewitnesses, the snakes were a part of one of the parade’s most elaborate floats—a scene depicting St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland.

“It was Seamus Bennigan’s snake float,” said Brendan O’Mulligan, who watched the parade and witnessed the snake escape. “Every year, he brings his collection of trained snakes—ghastly things, if you ask me, but people love it. He has them all on the back of his truck. Then he stands there with his shepherd’s crook, and he’s got that white beard, and he wears the pointy hat and the green robe, the whole St. Patrick get-up—and he rebukes those snakes something fierce. He’s probably been doing it going on 20 years. This year I guess something went wrong.”

As the parade passed the former site of Cyril’s on the Napeague stretch, eyewitnesses say something appeared to startle the snakes and they slithered off the truck bed and onto the highway. From there, the snakes rapidly made their way into the grass and sand on either side of the road.

“It all happened very quickly,” spokesman Hirsch said. “People on the side of the road said it probably only took about a half a minute for all the snakes to slither out of sight.”

As for Seamus Bennigan, he has vowed to recapture his snakes. In the meantime, police are urging local residents to use caution, especially in the Napeague area—though the reptiles may migrate toward more populated areas to the east and west.

Read more tales from the Hamptons Police Blotter

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