Tens of thousands descended on Pearl River Sunday for the 51st annual Rockland County St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
While it snowed on Saturday, there was no such precipitation Sunday, although it was fairly chilly. Still, for people like Blauvelt’s Matty Reilly, who started attending the parade in 1967, they remember past parades with less welcoming weather. Reilly specifically remembers the 1974 parade as a fairly nasty one weather-wise. He also remembers the ’74 parade because he was grand marshal that year.
“The wind that day could cut you in two,” Reilly said. “It was that bad.”
Reilly said that wasn’t the only difference between the parade this year and when he was grand marshal.
“The crowd was much smaller back then,” he said. “Now it’s become such a huge event. It’s great how many people come out to celebrate Irish heritage.”
Reilly said he plans to keep on attending the parade no matter what the weather’s like.
“Oh, I’m going to keep coming until I’m dead,” he said.
Cy Hughes was grand marshal of the parade in 2005, a year when it rained the day of the event.
“It was colder that day too,” he said. “No matter the weather, though, the day always explodes into something great. It’s just a wonderful event every year.”
Both said the parade flies by when you’re the grand marshal, a sentiment echoed by Monsignor Edward J. Weber, this year’s grand marshal.
This year’s parade was led by the Honor Guard from The Fighting 69th followed by Parade Commander Sgt. Kieran Murphy, of Pearl River, who has been a member of the Fighting 69th Infantry Brigade of the New York National Guard since 2006.
The parade marched from Middletown Road onto E. Central Ave., and included marchers from local schools, organizations and businesses. There were also performances by local high school bands, dance schools and numerous pipe and drum bands.