IRISH EYES WILL BE SMILING SATURDAY

Albany celebrates St. Patrick's Day with two parades this weekend

CAROL DEMARE STAFF WRITER
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D1

Date: Friday, March 11, 2011

ALBANY -- Women will take center stage at Albany's St. Patrick's Day parades on Saturday.


Two members of the Colonie Irish, Joan Sheehan and Claudia Longo, are co-grand marshals for the city's downtown parade, the 61st annual event, always held on the Saturday before March 17, St. Patrick's feast day. The eight-division parade begins at 2 p.m. at Central Avenue and Quail Street.


Lynn Salisbury, a member of the North Albany Limericks organization will be marshal of that group's parade. Salisbury is being honored for her tireless parade work, with her husband, Ricky, since the 1970s, organizers said.


For the parade over the past 29 years, Sheehan, 70, and Longo, 69, college friends who met at the State University at Oneonta, have carried the banner of the Colonie Irish, a social club that has devotion to St. Patrick.


"We felt honored to represent our organization, and we felt we were chosen because of our dedication in carrying that banner in snow, sleet, rain," Sheehan said.


Sheehan, a retired South Colonie elementary school teacher and 24-year breast cancer survivor, is president of the Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer. Longo, a retired child-care worker, is on the board of directors. The two Long Island natives married men they met in college who were also friends and lived in Colonie.


The North Albany parade begins at noon at North Albany American Legion Post at North First and North Pearl streets. It has 27 units, including floats. Many of the 536 members of the Limericks organization, a civic group that supports children, veterans and church organizations, also march in the downtown parade, comprising the largest division.


Miss Limerick is Anna Lease, 16, a Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School junior. She will ride on a float.


The North Albany parade lasts about an hour and the Limericks are bused to the downtown parade after a quick hotdog at the post.


"We marched in 27 inches of snow in 1993, although in North Albany it had dwindled to 23 inches by noon, and it dropped another 4 inches while we were marching," said Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners, a North Albany native. "It's the only continuously marched parade around here. It was never postponed and never canceled." The downtown parade has been postponed on occasion because of weather.


Lynn Salisbury, 50, an Albany native, said the best thing about the North Albany parade is the people.


"There are people we do not see all year round, but when it becomes parade day there are people you haven't seen in 5 and 10 and 15 years. On parade day, we could be scattered all over New York state, but everyone comes home."


It's amazing, she said, that third and fourth generations come back. "You knew them as children, and they're back with their children."


The first event for the Irish faithful is Mass on Saturday morning. This year it's at 9 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church on Central Avenue.


In Hoosick Falls, the St., Patrick's Parade and Irish Fest will celebrate its 20th anniversary at 1 p.m. Saturday with more than 40 marching units and floats. It is followed by the Irish Fest which attracts some 2,000 to 3,000 visitors.


Reach Carol DeMare at 454-5431 or cdemare@timesunion.com.





Information


Albany's St. Patrick's Day Parade will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday on Central Avenue. It will proceed down (east) Central Avenue to State Street (past the Capitol and City Hall) then north onto North Pearl Street where it will disband at the foot of Clinton Avenue.


For more information, go to http: /albanystpatricksdayparade.com.


The Capital District Transportation Authority will modify these bus routes in Albany on Saturday March 12 from 2 p.m. until the end of the St. Patrick's Day Parade:


No. 1 Central Avenue, No. 2 West Albany, No. 3 Quail Street Belt, No. 6 Second Avenue, No. 7 Glenmont, No. 8 Arbor Hill, No. 10 Western Avenue, No. 12 Washington Avenue, No. 13 New Scotland, No. 214 Rensselaer-Third Street, No. 18 Delaware Avenue, No. 22 Albany-Watervliet-Troy, No. 55 Schenectady-Albany via Route 5.


All routes will connect and transfer at SUNY Plaza at Hudson and Broadway.


For more information, call CDTA, 482-8822 or go to http://www.cdta.org.