The Westhampton Beach Parade Committee will once again paint the village green as it hosts the 46th annual Westhampton Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 9. The parade, which is scheduled to step off at noon sharp, will begin at the Westhampton Beach Elementary School and wind its way southeast down Mill Road before turning onto Main Street where it will pass by throngs of eager revelers, as well as parade float judges, before ending near Sunset Avenue.
This year’s parade will be led by Grand Marshal Tom Otis of Quogue, who helped select this year’s theme of “A Drive Through Time.” The theme makes reference to local businesses, like Gloria’s and the Westhampton Bowl, that have long since closed their doors but are still fondly remembered by locals.
Mr. Otis, the president of Otis Ford in Quogue, was selected by the Parade Committee due to his long record of community service to the greater Westhampton area. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Westhampton and co-chairs the organization’s annual golf outings that have raised more than $500,000 over the years. He also served his hometown of Quogue as a volunteer firefighter for 35 years and has been an active fundraiser for the outfit. In addition, he has served on the Quogue Board of Education for 16 years, including 13 years as president, served on two boards at the Westhampton Presbyterian Church and volunteered with Maureen’s Haven. Mr. Otis also served his country as a lieutenant in the National Guard.
“The committee recognized Tom’s good work with Maureen’s Haven in helping the homeless, as well as his commitment in helping the Quogue Fire Department not only as a member, but as a fundraiser and organizer of events,” Westhampton Beach Parade Committee President Tim Laube said. “He’s a really great guy and it’s an honor to have him be part of the parade.”
The committee held its parade fundraiser honoring Mr. Otis as its 47th grand marshal—there were two co-grand marshals one year—on Saturday, March 2, at Casey’s in Westhampton Beach. This year’s event featured entertainment by New Life Crisis as well as traditional bagpipe music. The annual event is the primary way that parade organizers raise money to pay for the annual spectacle.
This year’s parade will feature the American Celtic Pipe Band, the Amityville American Legion Island Pipe Band, the County Armagh Pipers Band, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 25 Pipes and Drums, Tara Pipes and Drums, Sonora Guatemala Mariba and the Westhampton Beach High School Marching Band, among others.
The Westhampton Beach parade is traditionally held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, but was moved up this year so as not to coincide with the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 16.
“Many of the pipe bands that march with us also march in the New York City parade, so in an effort to accommodate our pipers, we have rescheduled our parade,” Mr. Laube explained. “If we marched on the same day as the city parade, we would lose all of our pipe bands to the city parade and a St. Patrick’s Day Parade without pipe bands is like a corned beef sandwich without mustard—it’s just not the same.”
The bands are not the only reason to watch the parade. Every year local civic, youth and cultural organizations compete for top honors in the float award competition, which awards $500 for first place in its Youth and Community divisions. A third float category is open to businesses and commercial entities. While no cash prize is awarded to the winner of the commercial category, bragging rights for the year make it worth the effort.
“I always look forward to seeing what the Coneheads are going to do—they keep it a secret.” Mr. Laube said. “My bet is that they will work the snowstorm into their theme somehow, but you never know what they are going to come up with.”
The group boast nearly 40 members and all keep their identities a mystery. They also keep their float a secret, though they typically amuse spectators with their unusual brand of social and political commentary.
Spectators are advised to arrive early, before roads are blocked off, and they can park in any public lot or area that is not blocked off by police. After the parade, families can attend the annual Children’s Carnival on the Great Lawn from 1 p.m. until dusk.
Revelers can stop by area eateries, including the Hampton Coffee Company, Kerrigan’s Pub, Casey’s, Boom Burger, Jonesey’s and Cafe at Malloy, for a bite to eat or to wet their whistle both during and after the parade. For a hearty luncheon of corned beef and cabbage, paradegoers can stop by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Main Street from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children. For more information on the church lunch, call 288-2111.