Shamrocks, bagpipes, and leprechauns—oh my!

East Islip St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a beautiful celebration


With the temperature in the low 60s and a clear, sunny sky, this past Sunday was the perfect occasion to wear green, enjoy a cold beer with a friend, and flock to Main Street in East Islip for the 59th annual John P. Reilly St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The parade is organized each year by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (A.O.H.) Division 7 in East Islip. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, founded in 1836, is America’s oldest Irish Catholic Fraternal Organization, with roots that trace back to a series of similar societies that existed in Ireland for more than 300 years.

This year, the parade was held on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. In honor of the parade’s founder and chairman John P. Reilly, who began the parade in 1966, the organization upholds the tradition of holding the parade on the first Sunday of March.

A lively crowd of green packed alongside both sides of Main Street, eagerly awaiting the parade’s start. The procession kicked off as grand marshal Shawn O’Neill, lifelong resident of the Town of Islip and previous president of Division 7 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, began the procession from the East Islip Public Library to aptly named Irish Lane. Also among the procession was the ladies aide to the grand marshal, Mary Phalen, and the LAOH Suffolk County Walking in the Footsteps of St. Brigid honoree Maureen Connors.

The parade was full of familiar faces within the East Islip community.

Members of the East Islip Chamber of Commerce walked in the parade, including president of the chamber and owner of Lees Autobody, Gary Teich.

Taylor’s Hope Foundation, an organization founded by an East Islip family to support and raise awareness for children battling cancer, had its own float in the parade, and Taylor Ryan herself handed out green necklaces and accessories to the crowd.

Student-athletes from East Islip High School represented the East Islip Athletics Booster Club, including members of the football team that won the Long Island Championship Class III  this past November

Local officials also processed in the parade, including congressman Andrew Garbarino, Islip town clerk Linda Vavricka, town councilmen James O’Connor and Michael McElwee, and Suffolk County legislators Steven Flotteron and Samuel Gonzalez.

Entertaining performances that celebrated Irish culture were enjoyed throughout the parade, including Irish step dancing performances from Irishfree School of Irish Dancing and Mulvihill-Lynch Irish Dance Studio, as well as numerous bagpipe bands, including AOH Division 7’s own Roisin Dubh Pipe Band.

Perhaps receiving the most applause during the parade were veterans marching with their veteran organizations, including Amvets Post 18 and a Long Island chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America. 


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