The Yonkers McLean Avenue St. Patrick’s Parade Has Roots in the 1800s

Photos by Kevin Fitzgerald

*Due to concerns for public safety surrounding the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has recently been postponed until September. Original story follows as printed

In Westchester, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just an excuse to wear green and down a few pints of Guinness; we like to celebrate by attending one of the county’s fabulous Gaelic parades. This year, the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Parade on McLean, one of the area’s largest, rings in its 65th year of shamrocks and step dancing on March 21 at 1 p.m., recognizing a rich history that goes back for generations.

Yonkers St. Patrick’s Parade on McLean is a true marching parade, representing Irish organizations throughout New York.

The current parade has its roots in the 1800s, with interruptions by both World Wars before being revived in 1956, says James Landy, vice chairman of the parade board. A lifelong Yonkers resident, Landy has been involved with the parade since 1974 and served as grand marshal in 1996. (Cardinal Timothy Dolan was a past grand marshal).

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Last year’s grand marshall, Caitriona Clarke, with some of the 20,000+ spectators who turned out for the parade.

Six years ago, the parade merged with the McLean Avenue Merchants Association’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, moving from its original location to the Irish-business-lined street. Last year, an estimated 20,000-30,000 spectators turned out to line the parade route, which featured nearly 6,000 marchers, including 30 bands, emerald societies of Westchester’s police and firefighters, local Irish dance academies, and associations from some of Ireland’s 32 counties. This year’s grand marshal is Patricia Donovan McCrudden, who’s been involved with the parade for more than 50 years.

“We decided to have a small community parade and never thought it would become what it’s become,” says Dublin-born Deirdre O’ Mara, co-chairperson of the parade. “That we celebrate being Irish provides a tie to our heritage and customs, but it also provides a great joyous spirit to the whole community.”

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