Thousands of people made their way to the West End on Saturday for the 29th annual Saint Brendan the Navigator Irish Heritage Day Parade and Festival.
Hosted by the Ancient Order of the Hibernians Division 17 of Long Beach, the parade featured pipe bands and veteran, civic, ethnic and religious organizations, while the festival boasted more than 50 vendors, including Irish concessions, from New York to Connecticut avenues.
Miguel Rodriguez, a local educator and a coach of the Long Beach Gladiators, a wrestling group, served as the grand marshal of the parade, and his aides were Brenna Feerick, Chris Jordan and Michael McGovern, AOH members said.
“It’s a great day, and it’s not raining, which is always nice,” said AOH President John McGovern, adding that the proceeds from the event benefit various local charities. “We got to honor a great guy from the neighborhood, Miguel Rodriguez, who’s an inspiration to everyone here and I’m happy we were able to honor him today.”
The city also hosted a Kids Fun Zone in the West Elementary School yard on Maryland Avenue where children were able to safely enjoy rides, games and music during the festivities. In 2014, City Council President Anthony Eramo worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to establish the Kids Fun Zone during Irish Day to allow for a safe, family-friendly space where people could go.
“This is my seventh Irish Day and it’s been a wonderful experience,” said Parade Chairman Bernie Petty. This year was his last time serving in the position.
“As I sign off, I just want people to understand the importance of what the Hibernians do in this town and for the community, and acknowledge the guys that I’ve been with and worked on my parade committee over the years that have done so much in putting this one day together.”