The crowd at the 52nd Montauk Friends of Erin St Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday was a bit lighter than usual but no less enthusiastic. The East Hampton Town Police Department estimated about 20,000 people showed up to watch the marching bands, fire departments, and floats that left from the Montauk Firehouse at about 11:30 a.m. and ended up near the Montauk I.G.A. at about 2:30 p.m.
Lt. Chris Hatch, the Montauk Precinct commander, said at least 1,500 people arrived by train, and that said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road were a tremendous help this year in curbing the crowds by not allowing liquids on the trains. That, and the cold weather, he said, deterred “some of the rowdies” from points west from traveling east for the event.
The crowds dissipated quickly, and the bars closed at about 6 p.m., he said, which also helped keep things from getting out of hand. There were no injuries or incidents reported, he said, adding that with the help from the M.T.A. and L.I.R.R. and other outside agencies, 155 law enforcement officers flooded the hamlet and helped the town continue to improve the atmosphere that in past years had gotten out of hand. There were two driving while intoxicated arrests and 30 summonses issued for town ordinance infractions, he said.
The parade was the culmination of a three-day celebration that started at Gurney’s Inn on Friday with a lunch honoring the parade’s grand marshal, Paul Monte, the general manager of Gurney’s.
On Saturday, the Friends hosted a cocktail party, also at Gurney’s Inn, and pulled the winning tickets for their Pot of Gold raffle. Cara Heneghan, a preschooler who is the daughter of Aoife and Shane Heneghan, won the top prize of $10,000. Donna Hadjipopov won the second-place prize of $1,000. The folks at John’s Pancake House and Mitch Wolman each won the two third-place prizes of $500.
Some 14 restaurants donated soups of all kinds to the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, which sold out of its 800 souvenir cups, offered at $8 apiece, on Sunday morning. The proceeds were donated to the Friends of Erin to help pay for parade.
Each year a panel of local judges pick the winning floats. Lynn Calvo of Lynn’s Hula Hut took first place a Hawaii-meets-Montauk float, complete with palm trees, hula skirts, and fishermen. Nancy Atlas’s Elvis float won second place. Gordon Ryan of the Promised Land Salvage Company took third place for a float that had people dressed as the Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot and an effigy of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Four Oaks was recognized for its dancing leprechauns.
Joe Bloecker, the president of the Friends of Erin, was thrilled with the parade this year. “I think we had a more mature crowd and a lot of families. There were a lot of children,” he said, and added, “It was so nice to see all those little faces smiling at us as we marched along.”