Bellport’s Fire Department presented their 3rd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade last Saturday, March 17. The festivities kicked off at 11 AM when the parade set off from Station Road and 2nd Street to go through Main Street on its way to the Bellport firehouse. There are more small-town St. Patrick’s Day parades like the one in this video in Westhampton Beach on Long Island:
Shawn Krulder was the Bellport Parade’s organizer and he was looking forward to the third annual parade that started out so humbly. In 2015, fire department personnel started to set up some springtime activities and they were wondering why Bellport Village never had its own St. Patrick’s Day parade while the village was perfect for doing that
So in March 2016, the first parade was held, though the organization had to be done on the fly. Most bands and entertainers generally need to be booked well in advance (some even require a year’s notice for their bookings) so most of the bands had already made commitments to parades in nearby communities like Blue Point and Patchogue.
But the Bellport community was rallying around the great idea and it wasn’t long before then-grand marshal Moran was waving to parade visitors from a beautiful antique fire truck. He was followed by local officials, New York State Assembly member Dean Murry, South Country Little League players, Boy Scout troops, Long Island Angels, Yacht Club members, and village trustees. All in all, enough participants to make the 2016 Bellhaven St. Patrick’s Day Parade a success.
In 2016, hundreds of spectators were lining the streets of Bellport Village to be part of what now has turned into a fine new Bellport tradition. Shawn Krulder is a proud man and he remembers well how small it all was when it started off. In 2016, the parade included just a 3-man bagpipe band. Of course, the initiative was also supported by the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society.
The following year (2017), the 3-man bagpipe band had grown into a 20-man bagpipe band and hundreds, some say thousands, were lining the streets of Bellport. Most spectators were dressed all in green from their heads to their toes which contributed highly to the festive character and every year, more and more people are jumping on board. More organizers and regional fire departments are now involved and the organization really wants things to move forward and the expectation is that the parade will get better and bigger every year.
This year, Gerard James Veitch (86) was leading the parade as grand marshal. Veitch has been a Bellport community staple for a longer period of time. Veitch was born and raised in Queens to Scottish and Irish parents. He is a veteran of the Korean War and graduated from Adelphi University. Later in his life, he worked in the field of engineering and as a real estate appraiser. Together with his wife Mary, Veitch moved to Bellport Village in the 1960s. The couple had twelve 12 children, 33 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.
Ever since he moved to Bellport, Veith has been very active in the Bellport community where he served on the planning board and as a building inspector. Today, he is still active and he attends St. Joseph the Worker RC Church in East Patchogue. Veitch says he likes living in Bellport very much as it is a fantastic place for children to grow up. He says he’s very happy here. If you want to learn more about the history of education in America over the last hundred years, go to this article by clicking on the link.
Together with his wife Mary, Veitch visited Ireland and Scotland several times and they loved these places as the people over there are so very friendly. But this time, Veitch was excited to finally be able to be part of St. Patrick’s parade in his own village. He says he was highly honored when they asked him to be this year’s grand marshal. Many of his family members appeared out on Bellport’s streets to cheer on their patriarch, all in green and waving Irish flags.
When the parade was over. the fun was continued at the Bellport firehouse. From noon to 4 PM, the finest pints of Guinness were poured at a beer garden set up for the occasion along with Irish food, games, and music, not so far away from the Bellport Museum Complex.