The 2nd annual Backyard Breakfast raises money for parade charities


The Backyard Players and Friends, an inclusive, arts-based community nonprofit on North Long Beach Road, joined members of the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee on Sunday morning, for its second annual pancake Backyard Breakfast fundraiser.

This year’s festivities served up much more than just hot, fluffy pancakes fresh off the griddle, it also included raffles with themed-gift baskets and activities like pickleball and cornhole. There were also different vendors and fun and games for the younger crowd as well.

Jackie Kerr, president of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee said that a fundraiser breakfast has been a major facet of the committee’s efforts to raise money for charities over the past 27 years.

“We always did a breakfast at CJ’s as a fundraiser, and when the hands changed we decided to have our own pancake breakfast instead,” Kerr explained. “Last year was our record high. Each charity got $60,000. Of course, we never raise the same amount of money every year, but all of our events have been extremely successful.”

One of the parade founders, the late Bud Cosgrove, was instrumental in creating what would become a longstanding community tradition. He set out with a group of friends in 1997 to come up with an idea for a “different” type of parade — to raise money for one local, one national and one Irish charity.

“My family is from that country, so it’s nice to be able to give our money back to Ireland,” Kerr said. “Every year, we have an Irish charity to donate to.”

All of the donations raised during the fundraiser will go to help benefit this year’s charities — Beyond the Badge, the Limb Kind Foundation and the Crocus Cancer Support Center in Monaghan County, Ireland.

Kerr further explained that apart from the donations, the relationship between the different charities they each year is nothing short of mutual.

“They always ask us, ‘what can we do?’ and it really is such a complementary relationship,” Kerr said.

While the planning and work that goes into each of the charity events prior to the annual parade is a year-round process, the charities typically send in their application in July after which they are put out to a vote.

“Then the charities who have put themselves forward this year and didn’t make it can always put them forward again next year,” Kerr explained.

The Backyard Breakfast is just one of several events orchestrated by the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee throughout the year.

The next big event will be its annual Grand Marshal Dinner and reception at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park on March 21 at 7 p.m. honoring Grand Marshal Greg Schaefer president and chief executive officer of Better Home Health Care Agency in Rockville Centre.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place rain or shine on Saturday, March 23, following a morning Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral. Staging will begin at 10:30 a.m., with the parade to step off at noon from the municipal parking lot on the north side of Sunrise Highway, between North Long Beach Road and North Forest Avenue.

The parade is scheduled to take about two hours. There will be no parking along the parade route, and no parking on North Long Beach Road between Sunrise Highway and Water Street.