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    Posted March 2, 2014 by
    Rockaway, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    St. Patrick’s Day Comes Early to Rockaway, NY


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     beachtar photographed the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Rockaway, New York, on March 1st. The parade was an all-day affair as people lined the streets of their neighborhood to watch the parade marchers. 'It was so wonderful to see the massive turnout for the parade this year. If you walk the streets of this sleepy beachfront community on almost any other day of the year, you would never imagine you could see those same streets clogged with this many people,' he said. 'For many in Rockaway, sometimes referred to affectionately as the Irish Riviera, the parade is the highlight of their year. Even people who have moved away will often return for the event.'
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Just as New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential primary, Rockaway in New York’s borough of Queens holds what is most likely the country’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade. Today, and on the first Saturday of every March, ambulance corps, scout troops, high school marching bands, Irish organizations, bagpipe bands, and fire departments from as far away as Millville, Delaware descend on this small beachfront community to celebrate their heritage.


    This section of Rockaway is home to a large number of people of Irish descent and is comprised of towns that include Belle Harbor, Rockaway Park, and Neponsit. It also includes Breezy Point, which was devastated by fire and flood during Hurricane Sandy and which has the second highest Irish population per capita in the U.S.


    While the number of marchers may have eclipsed totals from past parades and throngs of enthusiastic onlookers again lined both sides of Newport Avenue, this 39th staging of the event was decidedly less politically charged than last year’s parade. In 2013 the New York mayoral race was in full swing and wide open and many of the candidates put in appearances. Most notable was former mayor Michael Bloomberg who was lustily booed by residents who felt the city had given them short shrift following the hurricane. In addition, this parade was not under fire from LGBT groups as the Manhattan parade has been, as a result of the organizers banning these groups from marching.


    A brilliant sun shone down on the marchers today, but with mother nature poised to dump another 4”-8” of snow on the area tomorrow, many had been hoping the parade would hasten the arrival of spring.

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