GOSHEN—The Mid-Hudson St. Patrick Parade committee had its first fundraiser at Kelley Jean’s Restaurant in Goshen on a frigid Feb. 14, a month before the parade on March 13. Within an hour the pub held standing-room only supporters who were enjoying Irish music and entertained by pipes and drums and step dancers.
Jason Fox, president of the parade committee, said the event is planned to build excitement, awareness, and publicity for the parade. “We call it a kick-off to St. Patrick’s day.” The parade will be traditional with marching bands, dance units, civic units, and soccer teams.
Fox said ten Irish American organizations work with the committee, among them a Gaelic football club and the Greenwood Lake Gaelic Cultural Society.
The band from the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Orange County, wearing predominantly blue kilts of various patterns, performed traditional march music. Irish step dancers from the Earley/McLoughlin School of Dance also performed.
Goshen’s Mayor Kyle Roddey made an appearance to support the popular event. “It’s one of the best days of the year in the Village of Goshen. It brings in so many people.” The mayor has some Irish in him and he was happy to celebrate his Irish heritage.
The parade has been held in the Mid-Hudson Valley for 40 years, the last 12 which have been in Goshen. Fox said that, in good weather, about 40,000 to 50,000 will watch the parade. He said the event on this day raises funds to cover some of the costs of the parade.
The village benefits in other ways. Fox says local businesses open on the day of the parade, March 13, and can get more traffic from the parade crowd.
Grand marshal for the parade this year is Sister Ann Daly, a Presentation Sister whose order hails from New Windsor. Daly has lived and worked in Goshen for 50 years. Daly said both of her parents emigrated from Ireland.
Her brother encouraged her to accept the honor. “He said, ‘Our parents would be very proud.’ They installed in me a great love for Ireland and the Irish people.” She said she visits often.
Among the many celebrating, Denise and Colin Gillis came to enjoy the entertainment. Proud to be Irish, they also came to support their son Connor, who belongs to the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. Colin Gillis said he and Denise go every year to the parade.
Brianne Emsworth and her sister Aileen Bennett come from “a big Irish family” and came to support. Aileen was a former Irish dancer and looked forward to seeing the step dancers. Dean Stombello, ethnically Romanian, said he’s Irish “on a lot of days.”
Fox says the fundraiser is just one event of what he calls “the beginning of the season of St. Patrick’s day.” Two weeks after the parade Irish-Americans will play Italian-Americans in a fundraiser football game for a local food pantry.
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