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An Irish Pub, a Parade, and a Paper: the history behind the BBP St. Patrick’s Day Parade

An Irish Pub, a Parade, and a Paper

The history behind the Bayport-Blue Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade

by Kate Berube

Photos by Walter Petrule

On a March morning in 1990, 6 guys wandered into Cavanaugh’s Irish Pub in Blue Point at an ungodly hour. Chris Cavanaugh, just unlocking the bar at the time, was surprised when it came out that the group of early risers knocking at his door were merely stopping in on their way to the Westhampton Beach St. Patrick’s Day parade. After a round, the rambunctious group headed out to make the eastbound train their laughter echoing behind them. Well hell, Chris thought watching them leave, why don’t we have one of those?

The very next March, the first annual Bayport-Blue Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade, thrown together by the young and ambitious Chamber of Commerce, kicked off, marching through both towns and concluding right in front of Cavanaugh’s Pub. It’s said that that first year was little more than a bagpiper, a firetruck, and some girl scouts with a wagon. Walter Geoghan was ordained the first Grand Marshal with the legendary Skip Pope manning the grandstand. What was lacking in experience was made up for in enthusiasm, but really how were we to know that someone was going to have to pay for all those Pipe Bands?!

If they meant to continue, and they certainly did, they needed the means to finance all those Grand Ideas going forward. Tom Reid, a printer by trade, suggested a printed parade paper with paid advertisements. Back then, what would become the Irish Gazette, was little more than a three-page fold-out. Local businesses, made up of our friends and neighbors, sent their ads on scraps of paper and backs of napkins over to Cav’s. Tom worked his magic, typing them up to be printed out alongside the parade lineup and route. All the proceeds from those advertisements paid for the second parade… and we have, more or less, continued on that way ever since.

The first Irish Gazette published in 1992

Over the years, Parade Day has taken shape in ways that were unimaginable in 1991.

Families have come to build their own traditions around the event, and for many in our tiny beachfront community, this is how we wake up from a long winter. While the Irish Gazette has grown in size and scope, now delivered to over 22,000 homes in the surrounding area and spawned the monthly Bayport-Blue Point and Sayville Gazettes, the heart of the paper through the years has stayed true to this fundamental fact… we are a collection of good stories about good people inspired by the place we are blessed to call home. Being able to watch the parade grow, from an idea among friends in an Irish pub to a regional event that brings 15,000 people a year to our small community, has been both a privilege and an honor.

We can’t wait to see everyone in their green,

Gala and Kate


Contact Gala for more details!

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