Insurgent St. Pat’s for All Parade comes into its own

Brendan Fay helped start a new St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2000 after his arrests for trying to march in three under a gay banner.

Brendan Fay pointed to an e-mail on his computer screen from the New York Fire Department’s Emerald Society Pipes and Drums corps confirming that it would be marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Queens, on Sunday.

“Now that’s how you know the tide has turned for us,” said Mr. Fay, 54, adding that this would be quite a change from the lone bagpiper that the fledgling parade had most years…

“I’d try to get pipe bands to participate, and they’d say something like, ‘Oh, you’re that parade – no, we’re not available,’” said Mr. Fay, who helped start the Queens event after being arrested at three St. Patrick’s Day parades in 1999 after he tried to march under a banner for a gay alliance…

With the phone ringing constantly, Mr. Fay finalized details for portable toilets, pipers and puppets to be held aloft by children. The parade has grown in size every year, and this year he expects more than 2,000 participants…

As for the parade, he said, “We err on the side of hospitality and inclusiveness.” And with the doors wide open, he has certainly amassed a wide array of regular attendees, including from many ethnic groups in this extremely diverse area of Queens…

It was easier a decade ago when barely any politicians marched. That has changed, especially after Hillary Rodham Clinton showed up several times. Now elected officials are practically trampling over children to engage with spectators, joked Tom Moulton, Mr. Fay’s husband, who for the past week has been baking cakes and cookies for preparade events.

Now Mr. Fay’s in-box is full of e-mails from the offices of elected officials and politicians jostling for favored positions, including Joseph J. Lhota, a Republican candidate in the hotly contested race to succeed Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who will also be marching.

Ain’t politics wonderful?

The best of the breed learn to look ahead. Part of being a bona fide leader is having enough good sense to comprehend the best of any several paths people are going to take on their own – and then get there alongside them if not a few feet in front.

Given the number of priests, politicians and pundits who still are struggling to hold folks back, being a leader shouldn’t be as difficult as so many make it out to be.

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