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Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Photos by Greg Catalano

 

Photo by Greg Catalano

The Friends of St. Patrick have announced that the 72nd annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled for Sunday, March 10 starting at 1 p.m. sharp.

Vincent Worthington, a long- standing member and Sergeant of Arms for the organization has been named 2024 Grand Marshal. Worthington has been a proud member of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office since 1996. After moving to Wading River with his wife in 2002, he became involved in the community, and was particularly drawn to The Friends of St. Patrick, becoming a member himself in 2005.

As his family expanded to include 3 sons, Worthington became increasingly involved in raising funds to support the parade and organizing the parade itself. Vincent has traced his Irish ancestry back to 1744. He is the seventh of seven children who were steeped in Irish traditions: dedication to family, strong work ethic, commitment to community and church, music and the Irish sense of humor.

The parade will kick off at Harrison Avenue in Miller Place and ends at Broadway in Rocky Point. For more information, visit www.thefriendsofstpatrick.com.

Alan Ghidaleson, left, with his wife Diane. Photo from Alan Ghidaleson

By Aidan Johnson

Mount Sinai is saying goodbye to the beloved pet store Feasts For Beasts, as owner Alan Ghidaleson moves onto the next chapter of his life with his wife, Diane.

Ghidaleson, who has owned and operated his shop since 1977, originally started working in building maintenance in Manhattan. “It was fun in the beginning because it was new, but then it just wasn’t my passion,” he told TBR News Media in an exclusive interview. “What I always had a passion for was pets, especially dogs.”

‘I really had a great time doing what I love.’

— Alan Ghidaleson

The industry was suggested to him by a friend who managed a few pet stores in Atlanta. “He said, ‘This is an industry you would absolutely love,’ and I went for a visit,” Ghidaleson shared. “I did like what he was doing, but said, ‘You know what, I’m a New York boy, so I’m going to do it in New York.’ And that’s what I did.”

Ghidaleson found success in his new business, going from operating a single store to, at one point, running 10 locations including a pet hotel by the mid-1980s. “I really had a great time doing what I love,” he said. 

Among its other professional services, Feasts For Beasts handled dog grooming and dog training.

Ghidaleson described his staff as being “the best staff of employees of anybody in any industry,” taking pride from working with some of them from their teenage years to their 30s. 

He also detailed watching his customers progress through the different stages of life, going from teenagers to parents to even grandparents. 

Over the course of nearly a half-century, Ghidaleson had many fond memories, including participating in the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade. People from across Long Island would come to watch him and his Rottweiler pet riding on his motorcycle.

Ghidaleson also used to raffle off a new car and loved calling people to tell them they had won. “I’d buy a car from Ram, Chevrolet and raffle it off,” he said. “Calling people to say that you won an automobile, I have to say that was very exciting.”

Being in business for as long as he had meant witnessing several tragedies. After Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in over a thousand deaths in Louisiana in 2005, Ghidaleson and a few friends traveled to New Orleans to help out. They managed to save hundreds of dogs over the course of 10 days. 

Ghidaleson’s service to the community did not end at the pet shop. He completed a 68-mile walk from Mount Sinai to Chinatown in 2019 in order to raise money for the New York Warriors, a Long Island-based quadriplegic rugby team. It took him 28 hours to complete straight through, though it may have been shorter if the torrential rain hadn’t forced him to dry his clothes in the bathrooms of multiple Starbucks locations.

Despite his contributions to the community, Ghidaleson only recently realized the effect his business has had through the years. “It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words,” he said. “It’s magnificent.”

He added, “I didn’t realize what an impact that Feasts For Beasts has had on the community until the past month or so, because I get an abundance of people calling and coming in, and crying on the phone and crying in the store.”

Ghidaleson said he will still be around as he and his manager, Nick Kucharski, transition into the real estate business. While the pet store may be closing, Ghidaleson maintained he will still be there for anybody needing pet advice and information.

By Greg Catalano

The Friends of St. Patrick held the 71st annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 12.

In a grand spectacle, marchers walked along the parade route of Route 25A from Miller Place to Rocky Point. The event featured countless community organizations, business groups and performers.

— Photos by Greg Catalano



After two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, folks young and old were finally able to enjoy their beloved St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Hosted by the Friends of St. Patrick, the 70-year-old tradition returned to the streets of Miller Place and Rocky Point where a sea of green made of marching band members, bagpipers, local fire departments, public figures, vintage cars and more flowed past waves of revellers.  

File photo by Bob Savage

After a two year hiatus brought on by COVID 19 restrictions and mandates, The Friends of St. Patrick will resume a springtime tradition by hosting the 70th annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 13 starting at 1 p.m. sharp. This year the committee has named all former Grand Marshals to be Grand Marshals at this year’s parade. 

“North Shore residents have been cooped up and socially distanced for two long years now. It is time to break free and come out and celebrate with your community in this annual rite of spring. Pipe bands, fire trucks, dancers and marchers promise to lift all our spirits,” said a press release.

In lieu of naming a Queen and her Court, the Friends of St. Patrick have begun a scholarship fund for our local high schools. This year’s winner of a $1,000 scholarship is Alexa Zichinelli from Miller Place High School. Alexa wrote an essay on Irish history and lore inspired by her great-great Grandma, Mary Margaret McArdle from County Clare.

Alexa will be studying pre-med in college and is an active athlete, musician, tutor and volunteer. She aspires to become a surgeon and be a part of Doctor Without Borders.

For further information please visit their website at www.friendsofsaintpatrick.com or call 631-473-5100.

File photo by Bob Savage

For the second year in a row, the Friends of St. Patrick have canceled the Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day parade due to COVID-19 concerns. The announcement was made in a press release this week. “The safety of our marchers and supporters must take precedence over the joy the parade has been bringing to the North Shore of Brookhaven Town for over 70 years,” read the release. “We look forward to bringing the parade back, bigger and better than ever, in March 2022.”

A scene from the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick's Day in 2019. This year's parade has been postponed due to coronavirus. Photo by Kyle Barr

Local St. Patrick’s Day Parades have been postponed due to ongoing concerns of the spread of coronavirus. Some of these local events have not had to cancel a parade in their multi-decade lifetimes.

The reports of cancellations came through after a March 12 Suffolk County press conference, where county Executive Steve Bellone (D) and county health commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said it would be safer for all parades taking place on the 14th and 15th to postpone their events.

The New York City parade, which often draws thousands upon thousands in crowds, also announced March 11 it would postpone its parade. It was the first time in more than 250 years that the parade has been cancelled.

The Friends of St. Patrick, the nonprofit organization that puts on the Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade, announced it would be postponing the 70th annual 3-mile parade, which was originally scheduled for March 15. 

“We want to thank all of our sponsors and participants for their continuing support of the parade,” the Friends posted to Facebook. “While the Friends of St. Patrick are naturally disappointed to have to make this decision, it is the right decision. We know how important the event is to our community and the decision was not made lightly. We will be back bigger and better than ever at our next parade and will celebrate twice as much next time.”

James McElhone, the treasurer of the Friends of St. Patrick, said the organization would be holding a meeting the night of March 12 to discuss if the date would be pushed to later or if it would be safer to wait until next year.

“This is the first time in 70 years we’ve had to do this,” McElhone said. “Then again for New York City, it’s the first time in over 200 years.

On Thursday morning, the St. James Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade also announced it would postpone “for a later date” over concerns of exposure. 

Despite the calls for postponement, the 30th annual Ronkonkoma St, Patrick’s Day Parade is, as of writing, still planned for March 22 along Hawkins Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma.

Suffolk officials said there are currently 16 confirmed cases within the county, with 49 others in mandatory quarantine and 76 others who are be in monitored in “cautionary quarantine,” having recently travelled.

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Every 10 years, the people at the head of the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade honor all the past community members who were lucky enough to be named grand marshal.

As the annual parade looks down the barrel of its 70th anniversary, the people who run the second oldest parade in Suffolk County have the task of respecting the past while looking to continue its run into the future.

The Friends of St. Patrick, a group of volunteers who have helped put on the parade for the last seven decades, hosted its third annual Luck of the Irish Casino Night March 6. During the group’s biggest yearly fundraiser, members said they were not only acknowledging the past, but trying to look toward the future.  

“It costs about $40,000 to put this parade on, so fundraisers like this really help.”

— Hugh McCarrick

Unlike previous years when members would nominate a queen and her court, along with a grand marshal, this year members announced instead they would be supporting a local student with a $1,000 scholarship. 

“The applications for [the queen and her court] were going way down, and we were seeing it as sort of a bygone era,” said James McElhone, the recently installed treasurer of the Friends of St. Patrick. “We decided to make it a scholarship that would be rotating between several local high schools to encourage people to write an essay on their Irish heritage.”

This year, Alexa Zichinelli, a senior at Miller Place High School, won with her essay about her Irish heritage, particularly of her great grandmother on her father’s side who came from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. 

Her grandmother often talks about that history, of when her own mother was in County Clare in Ireland. Zichinelli wrote about the Irish folklore her grandmother loves to talk about, along with the family she left behind.

“Going to where my great-grandmother was from in Ireland, she lived by these rocks that she described looked over a cliff, so it was just kind of magic, where she was from,” she said.

Zichinelli said she will put the scholarship to use, as she intends to go to college for premed, particularly on the path toward being a pediatric heart surgeon. 

Those who have been grand marshal in the past see the parade differently than most. It’s a tradition, yes, but it’s also been a way to celebrate and even define the North Shore communities along the Route 25A corridor. With 70 years of history, grand marshals have included noted community members like state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who was named grand marshal in 1989.

One family sticks out among those in the Rocky Point area. The McCarrick family owns property in the Rocky Point shopping district that once included the famed McCarrick’s Dairy before it closed in 2017 and later became a 7/11. Hugh McCarrick, one of the officers of the Friends of St. Patrick, said nine separate members of the McCarrick clan have been named grand marshal over the years. He and his brother Kevin, along with a slew of other past marshals, were both honored at the casino night March 6.

“Seventy means a tremendous amount.”

— Walter Colleran

Hugh McCarrick, who was named grand marshal in 1997, said going forward the objective is to make the parade more interesting every year, but with around 85 units in the parade this year, he added they are going strong. He thanked East Wind for hosting the fundraiser, which is easily its biggest of the year.

“It costs about $40,000 to put this parade on, so fundraisers like this really help,” he said.

Mike Tatilian, a grand marshal in 2015 and past president of the Friends of St. Patrick, said times have changed and they are always trying to bring in flesh blood to help out. Nothing else says that times have changed in seven decades than the number of St. Patrick’s Day parades around Suffolk County. While the Huntington parade is in its 86th year, hamlets like Kings Park and Jamesport are celebrating only their 10th and seventh years, respectively, of the annual parade. Tatilian said they’re always trying to compete for spectators, of which the MP-RP parade usually gets 25,000-30,000 along its 3-mile run. 

“There’s competition — you’re competing for fans,” he said. “When there used to be a few parades, now there’s many.”

Walter Colleran was named grand marshal in 2013 and said 70 years means a lot to a parade, also helping to display how its changed.

“Seventy means a tremendous amount — [the parade] started out years ago as an opportunity for everybody to hang out on the street and drink beer, but over the years it’s turned into a very family-oriented affair.”

From left, Queen Jazmine Lang and Lady-in-Waiting Emily Hampson

As the communities of Miller Place and Rocky Point, along with the neighboring hamlets of Brookhaven’s North Shore, are gearing up for an annual rite of spring, the Friends of St. Patrick are pleased to announce that the 69th annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Sunday, March 17.

The event will kick off at the comer of Harrison Avenue in Miller Place at 1 p.m. sharp and will proceed east along Route 25A before ending at the comer of Route 25A and Broadway in downtown Rocky Point. Route 25A will be closed to traffic at noon to prepare for the event.

John McNamara

The committee has named John McNamara as grand marshal of this year’s parade. John and his wife, Kathy, have resided in Rocky Point since 1978, where they raised four children and are the proud grandparents of six. McNamara taught at Maria Regina High School in Uniondale and has been the youth minister at St. Mark’s Parish in Shoreham since 1979. He has also been very involved in teaching and ministry at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Sound Beach and at his home parish, St. Anthony of Padua in Rocky Point. 

In keeping with the tradition of recognizing aspiring young women in the community, the title of parade queen has been bestowed upon Jazmine Lang of Rocky Point. A junior at Rocky Point High School, as well as a gymnastics coach at Towers Gymnastics, Lang is a member of the Rocky Point Fire Department and is very active with charitable activities in her community. Her majesty loves to help not only people in need but also animals, as she is involved with Last Chance Animal Rescue. She participates in the law enforcement program at BOCES and aspires to become a Navy Seal. Lang is very excited to be named queen of the parade and to celebrate with the community she loves.

The queen will be graciously escorted at the parade by her lady-in-waiting, Emily Hampson, a resident of Sound Beach who has been either attending the parade or participating in it all her life.

A sophomore at the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying for a bachelor’s degree in home products, Hampson hopes to achieve a career in cookware or small appliances. All through her young life, she has been an active volunteer in her community and her church, including directing the Christmas Pageant and running concession at the Shoreham BMX track. Hampson was a member of the Miller Place Cheer Team and coached cheer for the Sharks Cheerleading team. While attending college in Manhattan, she spends much time in Sound Beach and still considers it home. She will proudly sit next to the queen waiving at the crowd on March 17.

This year’s parade will feature veteran and community groups and organizations, along with elected officials from all areas of our government for the anticipated crowd of more than 50,000. Of course, no parade would be complete without the presence of local fire departments, high school bands, Irish dancing, Scout troops and many colorful floats. Be sure to come down to cheer your favorite on! There is something on this special day for everyone, as this local parade reaches historic proportions by carrying on a 68-year community tradition.

Visit www.friendsofstpatrick.org for updates.