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St. Patrick’s parade hails green in boro

Jennifer Kilpatrick (l.-r.), Abby Haddad and Brent O'Leary dance their way up Skillman Avenue during the parade two years ago.
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Activist Brendan Fay said Sunnyside and Woodside’s 13th St. Pat’s for All Parade will be bigger, better and greener than ever — in more ways than one.

Fay said for 2012, the inclusive parade will implement environmentally friendly measures. The parade will not have balloon arches and will use cloth instead of paper banners.

“That’s sort of a new sort of aspect of the parade,” Fay said.

St. Pat’s for All began in 2000 after gay and lesbian Irish groups were banned from Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1999. Now in its 13th year, Fay said the parade will feature not only LGBT groups but a variety of performers and organizations from all cultures and parts of New York.

“There is none like it,” Fay said. “There is no other cultural event that brings together the diversity of the city.”

This year’s parade will take place Sunday, March 4. It assembles at 1 p.m. and kickoff is an hour later. The parade 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 along Woodside until 58th Street.

Some of the 2,000 expected participants include Irish language groups, dancers and circus performers. The group Lunar New Year for All, which was inspired by the St. Pat’s parade, will also participate. The parade ends with a concert.

“Everyone is welcome in this parade,” Fay said.

The grand marshals of the parade will be Mary Brosnahan, executive director of the NYC Coalition for the Homeless, and author/historian Peter Quinn. Fay said he expects about 1,500 to 2,000 spectators depending on the weather.

St. Pat’s for All will also be hosting a benefit concert to raise funds March 2 at the Irish Arts Center, at 553 W. 51st St. in Manhattan. The reception begins at 6 p.m. and the concert starts at 7 p.m. Concert tickets cost $50.

This will be the first St. Pat’s for All Parade since New York state voted to approve same-sex marriage. Fay said despite the perception of Irish Catholics as conservative, many Irish people support equal rights.

“The Irish have long been leaders in advancing the cause of human rights and equality,” Fay said. “We have known discrimination as a community in the earliest days in this country.”

He also said the fight for marriage equality is not complete.

“We will keep working until there is marriage equality, until DOMA is overturned, until there’s equal rights everywhere,” Fay said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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