By Bill Miller and Jessica Easthope
LINDENHURST, N.Y. — Organizers of the second annual St. Patrick’s Parade here said it would start promptly at noon, Saturday, March 25, with hometown honoree Bishop Robert Brennan as the grand marshal — rain or shine.
And it did rain — a lot. The downpour began simultaneously with the on-time parade step off. It doused the participants for the entire route through this Suffolk County community on the south shore of Long Island.
Earlier, Bishop Brennan, who has Irish ancestors, celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help — the parish of his youth.
“It is always a great pleasure to be home,” Bishop Brennan told the congregation. “And this is always home.”
Later, he said serving as the parade’s grand marshal was an honor and an opportunity for him to express his delight and solidarity “with the people of this great town.
“You’re never too far from home,” he said, “because home is part of who you are. I was thinking early this morning there were a number of times I’ve walked down this street, Wellwood Avenue, in parades, usually in either a Cub Scout uniform or a baseball Little League uniform,” Bishop Brennan recollected. “So, many times I’ve celebrated parades here, but this will be a unique celebration.”
For the parade, Bishop Brennan swapped his mitre and vestments for a touring cap and overcoat, both black, plus his grand marshal sash of green, white, and orange — the tricolor of Ireland’s flag.
Although he was in his hometown, the bishop was outside his diocese, so he did not bring his crosier. Instead, he toted a black shillelagh in his left hand and an umbrella in the right. But the umbrella was unused despite the rain, and he didn’t ride on a float.
Bishop Brennan marched in step with the estimated 1,000 participants, including pipe-and-drum corps, the Lindenhurst High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC cadets, the Knights of Columbus, and numerous other civic groups. Trucks from fire departments all over Long Island also participated.
Winds clocked at up to 17 mph swept the parade route. And, with 87% humidity, the 45-degree temperature felt “like 38 degrees,” according to the National Weather Service. Still, the organizers estimated that 2,000 citizens of Lindenhurst lined the streets.
“The second annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade brings such joy to all of our hearts,” said parade attendee Noel Debardelaben. Bishop Brennan’s visit, he added, was a special delight.
“We’ve known his family for many, many years,” Debardelaben said. “It is great to have a local Lindenhurst person be the Bishop of Brooklyn. We are so thrilled that he was able to come back home and that he’s here as the grand marshal.”
Bishop Brennan closed the Mass with “The Irish Blessing” — a fitting sendoff in Dublin and Lindenhurst, rain or shine.
“May the road rise up to meet you,” he said. “May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
The next day’s forecast in Lindenhurst — sunny and warm.