The Rockville Centre St. Patrick's Parade first stepped off on March 22nd 1997
and has over the course of 16 years become one of the best attended and supported
parades outside of New York City. The Rockville Centre St. Patrick's Parade annually
shares its success with three worthy charities, which are National, Irish, and Rockville
Centre focused. Since the parade's inception in 1997, $718,000 has been distributed to
48 individual charities. Rockville Centre's St. Patrick's Parade is "The Parade that Cares
So how did this parade begin? In 1994, the founder of the parade and the 2006
Grand Marshal, David Crowe opened Lily Flanagan's Restaurant in Rockville Centre.
Passing by Village Hall he observed four proud Irish men hoisting up the Irish flag and
he wondered why Rockville Centre did not have a St. Patrick's Parade. He envisioned a
parade that would have thousands carrying the Irish and American flags rather than just
four men. Organizationally a huge challenge awaited, but undaunted the idea became
the reality it is today.
At a Venison Dinner co hosted by Gary Krupp , David and Joe Roughan were
introduced to Bishop John McGann RIP. David said "Bishop it is an honor to meet
you, why don't we have a St. Patrick's parade in Rockville Centre?" The Bishop replied
that the Garden City Parade had already been established and was an annual success.
This was not good enough for David and he asked the Bishop's permission to form an
organizational committee. The Bishop agreed and David and Joe went to speak with
Mayor Murray and Bud Cosgrove who embraced the idea with great enthusiasm. Bud
exclaimed "The Parade will ignite us all." Gary Krupp called Joe Kelly and Mike O'
Leary and the organizational nucleus took shape.
The first meeting took place at Lily Flanagan's and Merry Krupp jokingly
quipped "I can't believe that I am representing all of the Irish Catholic women in
Rockville Centre!" The concept of the parade was formally explored and expounded
in a lively discussion with many ideas and themes. The Village Administrator, Anthony
Cancellieri became involved at this stage and the committee decided to invite Judge
Williams to a meeting at Joe Roughan's house to formalize a working constitution
towards incorporation. Shortly after this, 501 C 3 status was adopted and Bob Wolf
coined the expression "The Parade that Cares and Shares"®
Lily Flanagan's became the Parade headquarters. David and Bud were elected
Parade co-chairmen and Joe Kelly was elected to the fund raising chair. Bishop John
R. McGann RIP was elected the first Grand Marshal. The annual parade date was
established as the Saturday falling one week after St. Patrick's Day, March 17th.
The level of organization involved to stage the parade was initially daunting.
Many meetings were held and at the end, Rockville Centre's infrastructure of Village
Administration, Police, Fire, Sanitation and Park Departments ensured that all would
be ready for the step off.
The official Parade Route began at the intersection of Long Beach Road and
Maple Avenue with participants lining up on Sunrise Highway. The Parade would
proceeded (as it does loday) along Maple Avenue, passing by Village Hall, and St. Agnes
Cathedral ending in Parking Field H2. The duration of the Parade was approximated to
be two hours.......... ten years later we march on and the rest is history.
THE ROCKVILLE CENTRE PARADE EMBLEM
The Parade emblem is a fusion of Irish-American Culture
and Traditions as represented by the American and Irish Flags.
The Irish Wolfhound predates Celtic Ireland and is a powerful
symbol of majesty and pace. The Irish Wolfhound is the mascot
of the Fighting 69th Regiment whose motto best epitomizes the
temperament of the Wolfhound "Gentle when stroked, fierce when
provoked." The Wolfhowld on the emblem is 'Desmond' the first
Rockville Centre Parade Mascot.
The Harp and the Shamrock are traditional symbols which
are held dear to many Irish Americans. The Harp represents the
great musical heritage of Ireland while the Shamrock is symbolic
of Ireland's Religious Traditions. The Artwork on the emblem was
done by Irish American Artist Bernie O'Boyle.
THE GRAND MARSHAL BROOCH
The Rockville Centre St. Patrick's Parade Committee
commissioned this Brooch in 2003 to be presented to the Grand
Marshal each year to wear during the Parade Day. The Brooch is
back dated to the First Parade, and all the previous Grand Marshal
names are recorded in the case. The idea of the Brooch is to continue
the tradition of succession in terms of those who have previously been
honored as Grand Marshal.
The Brooch design is from an original concept designed by
John and Maureen English. The Brooch was made by Mullingar
Pewter Co. Westmeath, Ireland, and was graciously donated to the
Rockville Centre St. Patrick's Parade Committee by Kathleen Alcock,
of Kathleen's of Donegal.