Friends Of Erin Hope Luck Of The Irish Shines On Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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The 2019 Montauk Friends of Erin Parade. EXPRESS FILE

The organizers of the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day parade are pressing ahead with their planning for the 2020 parade in the hope that the dangers of the pandemic will have eased enough by late March to allow the annual festivities to go on at some level.

The 58th marching of the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade is officially scheduled for Sunday, March 28, with two days of the usual Friends of Erin fundraising festivities — the Grand Marshall Luncheon on Friday and the Friends of Erin Gala on Saturday — planned beforehand. Charles Morici, who had been tapped to be the Grand Marshal of last year’s parade, which was canceled as the pandemic first surged across the country, is still to be the 58th Grand Marshal, whenever the parade moves forward.

Friends of Erin President Brian Matthews said that with so much planning to be done for the events to be held if it is possible when the time comes, the organizers simply have to start preparations and hope that some good Irish luck will find them celebrating St. Patrick in just under eight weeks.

“There’s a lot of planning that goes into everything, so we have to get the dates out and get notices out to bands and floats and the venues in the event that, knock wood, we are able to have [the parade],” Mr. Matthews said. “All of it is with the caveat that who knows what’s going to happen between now and then.”

If the parade were tomorrow, it could not march. The Friends of Erin have yet to apply to East Hampton Town for the mass gathering permit the parade requires each year, but town officials lamented they could not issue the permit under current state guidelines.

“Under the current series of statewide executive orders, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited,” Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzales, who serves on the town’s Special Events Committee, lamented in a message this week. “These restrictions apply to all types of outdoor events, including parades. Therefore, the town’s Special Events Committee is unable to issue a special events permit for the event. I look forward to the day when we can gather again, feast on chowder and enjoy our Irish heritage.”

Mr. Matthews that some other parades around the country have pared down their usual plans in order to go ahead with their festivities while adjusting to social distancing and limitations on crowds.

With 50 floats, numerous bands and some 15,000 people attending the Montauk parade in a big year, he said, he’s not sure yet what a scaled-back version of the Montauk parade even might look like.

“Last year — which, god, feels like 10 years ago and 10 days ago at the same time — we didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “This year, we’ll just have to see. We are going to make whatever preparations we can because we don’t want to let it go to the last minute, but we don’t want to cancel things too soon and what if things get a lot better? We’re just hoping to be able to do something.”

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