Places that Matter

St. Pat's for All Parade route

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St. Pat's for All Parade route
St. Pat's for All Parade route
St. Pat's for All Parade route
St. Pat's for All Parade route
Inclusive St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens
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By Michael Mason

The route of the St. Pat’s For All Parade runs through the Sunnyside and Woodside neighborhoods of Queens, and like many other community parades around the city, this event unifies and celebrates diverse local residents and the history of the surrounding area.  Each year, Sunnyside and Woodside are activated by the parade, and for the duration of the event, the route serves as setting for honoring Irish heritage and culture, as well as political activism and civil rights.

The St. Pat’s For All Parade is organized by Sunnyside and Woodside residents, and is co-chaired by Brendon Fay and Kathleen Walsh D'Arcy.  Fay, who co-founded the parade and takes on an active role as spokesperson for the event, is an activist, filmmaker, writer and long-time advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and communities.  He has testified in Washington and New York on LGBT matters and has been arrested advocating for civil rights. Fay founded the Lavender and Green Alliance, and helped form Irish Aids Outreach (IAC) to break the silence around AIDS in the Irish Community. He also recently directed Taking a Chance on God, a film about gay pioneer priest John McNeill, and has been involved in the marriage equality movement since 1998. Fay’s activism for gay rights and marriage equality, as well as his strong Catholic and Irish identity, led him to found the St. Pat's for All Parade in Queens.
 
When the St. Pat's for All Parade started, it was seen as a gay-pride parade, since it was initiated by a group of men and women who were excluded from marching in the 5th Avenue parade. The St. Pat's for All Parade celebrates Irish culture and uses this celebration to build a bridge to different groups in the neighborhood. The mission of the St. Pat's for All Parade is to be inclusive of everyone, and members of the LGBT community are invited to march. Over the years, the event has taken on the role of serving as a procession for the whole community. 
 
The promenade begins at 47th Street and Skillman Avenue and travels east on Skillman to 56th Street. The parade then turns north on Woodside Avenue and travels east to 58th Street. The route extends through an area that was primarily farmland until the early 1900's. Skillman Avenue was a thoroughfare that connected the villages of Long Island City and Woodside, and the streets around it were named after different farmers and property holders who owned land nearby.
 
Long Island City was incorporated in 1870 from the village of Astoria, and the hamlets of Ravenswood, Hunters Point, Blissville, Dutch Kills, and parts of the Township of Newtown.  It was a thriving community because of its close proximity to Manhattan and waterfront access to the East River and Newtown Creek.  It became a highly industrial area in the 19th century, and benefitted from a ferry terminal in Hunter's Point and railroad access to Long Island.
 
Woodside was settled by farmers in the early 18th century, and was developed more intensely as a residential suburb in 1860's.  Easy access to Long Island City by way of the Long Island Railroad made it a thriving suburban community, and by the 1930s, it hosted the largest Irish community in Queens. As of the 21st century, Woodside is still home to a significant Irish-American population, as well as a large Thai, Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Latino communities.