Log In   ·   Become A Member

Sixty-Something: My First Montauk Friends Of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade

T.J. Clemente

Legendary bartender Stephen Dolan at Montauket with Akua Lapu from Hawaii. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

I was writing weekly for the now defunct Montauk Pioneer and had moved to live in Montauk full time. It was October and although everyone knows Montauk, living there off-season one gets to really know Montauk. The following March of 2006 assignments were being handed out for March for the large free weekly that owned the Montauk Pioneer. It seemed no one wanted to cover the Montauk St Patty's Parade. It meant fighting traffic to get there, and blowing up a Saturday for those who already worked a five-day week. Since I lived in Montauk the traffic issue was moot and every Saturday, I used to go into town anyway. When I mentioned to East End legend Dan Rattiner who was running the editorial meeting, I had never ever been to the parade his smile widened and told me I had "quite an experience coming!" Dan's dad was the pharmacist in Montauk and Dan lived in Montauk after his family had relocated to Montauk from New Jersey in the 1950's. He recalled when the parade actually marched east to west not west to east like it has for the last 30 years. This coming Sunday, March 24 will be the 57th annual parade - starting at noon on Edgemere Street just west of the LIRR train station in Montauk.

Montauk off-season is quiet. You can park in the village anywhere. Going to the IGA is never a crowd problem and you have to go out of your way not to speed driving through town because there is just zero traffic. So, the morning of the parade I woke and decided to ride my road bicycle the short distance into the village. With my digital camera (pre-iPhone) and my pens, pad and paper in a backpack I was excited. I had already written articles about the parade's Grand Marshall and also attended kick-off events at Gurney's and the Montauket during the week. However, I had no actual idea what I was about to see when my bike rolled down the hill into the village.

Along Main Street (Route 27) and Edgemere Street and around the Village Green were 50,000 people (actually reported by the East Hampton police as that year's estimate) the largest crowd ever to see the parade, even to this day. I locked my bike, stood in front of the Chamber of Commerce building where I bought my first Montauk St. Paddy's Parade soup cup (I now have 12!). Carl Darenberg served me my first chowder as I proceeded to watch from next to the soup area. Many groups of bag pipers, along with various bands from fire stations from across Long Island marched past me.

There were local floats from the US Coast Guard, local businesses, and organizations. There were many local community groups and weird floats like one from a group called the "coneheads" where everyone on the float was sporting very tall SNL "coneheads." It went on for over an hour. Fire engine sirens, bag pipe songs, brass bands rocking traditional band songs, drum units from fire and police departments proudly walked by. Antique old-time fire department apparatuses were polished and presented by their respective fire departments from all over Long Island.

Candy was tossed from floats and beads and trinkets were given by clowns and other parade participants. Even Chuck Schumer showed up to politic. The crowd was diverse and everyone wore something green. The locals were there too, but most were actually marching with the floats. This was the largest small-town big time parade I have ever seen.

I still go back every year. I see old friends, but most of all I get to feel Montauk in it's "highest feather," with the green stripe painted down Main Street and the flag of Ireland hanging on all the flagpoles. It has snowed, it has drizzled, it has been very cold and it has been warm. Every time after the parade I always feel the joy of spring and summer coming sooner than later.

Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
What color is the sky?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.

Hamilton Hoge
As the owner’s representative our practice encompasses all aspects of a project from pre-purchase property due diligence, program development iterations, advisement on systems, analyze contracts/vendors, critical path analysis, feasibility and schedule. The strength of our approach is in facilitating organized communication. We strongly analyze all representations and warranties for the protection and benefit of our client.

The Citarella Standard. We’re passionate about sourcing and selling the world’s best seafood. When you order our fresh seafood online, what you receive always reflects the unrivaled standard of our markets. It’s hand-prepared, never frozen, and shipped overnight. 631-283-6600.