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The Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade

As Iconic As Corned Beef And Cabbage
By Hannah Selinger - March 12, 2019

In the off-season, Montauk, home to roughly 3,000 year-round residents, may seem like a removed fishing hamlet, where life slows down until the sun reemerges. In fact, locals have long since adopted an adage to describe their hometown: A drinking town with a fishing problem. Certainly, Montauk is renowned for its incredible fishing, its incredible surfing, its camaraderie-driven dive bars, its desolate beauty. But every March, the town is also known for its now-famous Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Montauk Friends of Erin was founded in 1962 in order to raise funds for a parade that would help usher in the warmer season. Each year, Montauk welcomes roughly 40,000 spectators, and the Friends of Erin now uses this opportunity to raise money for scholarships for Montauk students.

The 57th Annual Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick off at noon on Sunday, March 24, 2019. The parade begins on Edgemere Road, turning onto Main Street, where parade-goers line up to participate in the festivities. It is the state’s second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, culminating in a raucous celebration (green Mardi Gras beads and green beers included) near the IGA supermarket. Once the parade has concluded, stick around for the de rigueur East End Party. 

As is Montauk tradition, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce will serve hot soup to parade attendees on the Montauk Green beginning at 10 in the morning that Sunday. St. Patrick’s Day mugs are available at the Chamber for purchase, and can be filled with any number of soups, which are prepared and served by local restaurants. The parade itself begins with a ceremonial bang as the Grand Marshal—chosen each year by the Friends of Erin—appears, wearing a sash, top hat, and traditional Irish shillelagh (a blackthorn or oak stick, which doubles both as a walking stick and weapon). First-timers can expect decorated floats, sirens, police vehicles, fire vehicles, and, of course, an outstanding crowd filled with locals and visitors—most of whom are dressed up for the occasion. 

Afterwards, the go-to spot in town is the Shagwong Tavern, the bar and restaurant that opened on Montauk’s Main Street in 1936. This was once the playground of such cultural heroes as Andy Warhol and the members of the Rolling Stones, the coolest dive on the block. The owners—the Shagwong was sold and reimagined in 2015—have retained the space’s old school feel, keeping the memories of Shagwong’s past alive with photos of the hamlet that emerged from the basement during a small renovation. Celebrate the holiday in true dive bar style, with Pabst Blue Ribbon, Tecate, Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Light, or enjoy the craft selections now offered at the reinvigorated bar; Montauk Watermelon Ale, Fat Tire Ale, and Goose Island IPA are all available on tap. 

Take in the culture of Montauk this March. And don’t forget to wear green!

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