It’s an unofficial rule that on March 17th, everyone’s Irish. For centuries now, people celebrate Ireland’s patron saint by wearing green, decorating with shamrocks and drinking beer. In addition to all that, here on the East End, we sure do love a parade.
From Montauk to Westhampton Beach, South Fork hamlets are gearing up and getting their “Erin Go Bragh” going, as they prepare for their respective Paddy’s Day parades. Here’s where you can catch locals marching for the Emerald Isle, all month long, with maybe a pint, or two in-between.
Kicking things off is the Westhampton Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 11th on Main Street at 11 a.m.. What began as a grassroots effort by locals in the late 1960s, deciding to march down the village’s main drag, Westhampton’s parade has grown to include dozens of community organizations. Led by this year’s Grand Marshal Mike “Digger” Koziarz, the parade is slated to include bag pipe bands, school marching bands, a slew of classic cars, youth organizations, civic groups and local charities. There’s a float contest, with first, second and third place recipients receiving cash prizes up to $500.
“The parade marks the traditional start of the spring season from Eastport through Southampton and is attended and enjoyed by thousands of people each year,” according to a letter penned by Westhampton Beach parade committee president Tim Laube.
This Saturday, March 4th, there’s the committee’s annual St. Patrick’s Parade Fundraiser at Buoy One‘s Westhampton location at 62 Montauk Highway from 7 to 11 p.m.. Laube’s letter notes how nearly all the funds needed to produce the parade are raised at this fundraiser. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.
Irish eyes, and everyone else’s for that matter, will certainly be smiling in Hampton Bays, as the village’s Hibernians host their 17th annual St. Paddy’s Day parade on Saturday, March 18th. This year’s Grand Marshal is Rick Martel, a Southampton Town councilman and Hampton Bays business owner.
“It begins at the elementary school on Ponquogue Avenue at 11 a.m. and will feature a couple bagpipe bands, members of the village fire department, school marching bands plus several community organizations riding on floats they created for the event,” says parade committee member Fergus Scully. “It will then continue north from the school, making its way down Main Street.”
Pro tip: Park yourself and your friends near Buckley’s Inn Between on Main Street. You’ll have a front row seat to the parade and you’ll beat the line to grab a beer and a burger at the Irish-themed pub afterward.
For those east of the canal, head to Main Street in Amagansett for the cheekily named Am-O’Gansett St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 18th at noon. Self-described as the “world’s shortest parade,” this tiny but mighty march is sponsored by the hamlet’s chamber of commerce and features all the usual parade suspects, plus a tractor fleet from local farmers, like last year’s Grand Marshal Amber Waves.
Rounding out the month is Montauk’s 61st St. Patrick’s Day parade, a notoriously grand event, drawing upwards of 40,000 spectators in the past and making it one of the largest St. Paddy’s Day parades in the state.
“It’s definitely blossomed into a big, weekend event,” says Brian Matthews, president of Montauk’s Friends of Erin, the group responsible for putting on the show. This year, it’s on Sunday, March 26th, starting at noon on Edgemere Road in downtown Montauk.
“It’s a nice way to kick off our season,” says Matthews.
East Hampton Town Trustee and Montauk native Jim Grimes will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshal this year, a position his father held in 1986. Grimes is a member of the Montauk Fire Department and owns a landscaping design company.
“I’m honored, he says. “I’m just hoping I can keep up.”