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De Blasio lauds Queens St. Patrick's Day parade for inclusive spirit

IMG_3457 Credit: Emily Johnson

Amid mounting controversy over the famously anti-gay St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a slew of New York City elected officials who marched in the inclusive St. Pat’s for All Parade in Queens on Sunday.

“This parade is what New York City’s all about,” de Blasio said, speaking at the 47th Street start line. “This is a parade that celebrates inclusion, diversity, and unity. That is what this city is all about, that is what has made this city strong.”

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The long-running St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan, which annually attracts up to a million people along its Fifth Avenue route, does not allow participants to carry signs or banners identifying themselves as gay.

De Blasio and a number of other city officials who were in attendance on Sunday, including Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will not attend the March 17 parade in protest.

At the Queens parade, gay rights groups brandished banners re-branding the holiday as “Gae Pride Day” while gay Irish activist Rory O’Neill, also known as Panti Bliss, donned a curly blond wig and waved to the crowd from a red convertible.

The parade, which wound its way down Skillman Ave. from Sunnyside to Woodside, featured bagpipers and Irish step dancers from P.S. 59 in the Bronx. Spectators threw noisemakers and green beads from balconies along the parade route.

Panti Bliss, who posed for a photo with de Blasio after he spoke, said in a statement that she was delighted to take part in the inclusive parade.

"This colorful and vibrant celebration really is for all," she said. "And I'm definitely one of the 'all'!"

For more images from Sunday's parade, check out the gallery below:

Follow Emily Johnson on Twitter@emilyjreports

 
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