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Sunnyside gears up for March 1 gay−friendly St. Patrick’s parade

With March right around the corner, the time has come once again for Sunnyside to open its arches to St. Patrick’s Day revelers of all stripes.

The 10th annual “St. Pat’s for All” parade will take place Sunday at 1:30 p.m., parade founder Brendan Fay said.

“We come together on March 1 as diverse communities of New Yorkers to celebrate Irish heritage and culture,” said Fay, a gay rights activist. “Whether Latino, West Indian, Choctaw, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, gay or straight, the Irish story brings us together.”

The parade began in 2000 after Fay, his friend Barbara Mohr and a Bronx−based gay and lesbian Irish organization, Lavender and Green, were barred from marching in Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Fifth Avenue.

The Sunnyside parade starts at 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue and ends at 61st Street in Woodside.

Political luminaries expected to march include Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D−Manhattan), U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D−Jackson Heights), city Comptroller William Thompson, Councilmen David Weprin (D−Hollis) and Tony Avella (D−Bayside) and Jackson Heights Democratic District Leader Daniel Dromm.

Groups marching include Boys and Girls clubs, members of the FDNY Recruitment Office and marching groups from Catholic and Protestant parish communities. Gay community groups include Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Queens, Dignity NY and members of SAGE, a senior citizen outreach program.

This year’s parade grand marshals are film director Terry George and singer Susan McKeown, Fay said. Irish groups joining the line of march include the O’Donovan Rossa Society, Brehon Law Society, Patrick Finucane memorial group, Irish language group An Slua Nua and Irish dance schools.

Ian McGowan of the Greater Astoria Historical Society will also lead a group honoring Irish−American sports heroes of the 1908 Olympics.

For more information and to register to march in the parade, visit www.stpatsforall.com. The registration deadline is Thursday.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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