St. Patrick’s Day

by

03/14/2022

Neighborhood: Park Slope, Rockaway Beach

Three Pipers, 1997

I was born in South Brooklyn in 1947. As a teenager I did not experience the Italian – Irish conflict that my parents, children of Italian immigrants, did. The fighting between Irish-American and Italian-American teen gangs had basically stopped. (Sadly, newer common enemies were found.)  Locals continued to tag walls and store gates with graffiti featuring ethnic slurs.

I have photographed many Irish-Americans, but specifically only two St. Patrick Day parades. The first, in 1978, was small and took place in Park Slope. I concentrated on the staging area on the 14th Street side of the Sanders theater.

Marcher with Irish Power button, 1978

Marchers with American Flag, 1978

The second parade, in 1997, was larger and took place in Rockaway. It seemed almost a dress rehearsal for the official St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan two weeks later. I walked the entire route from Newport Avenue and Beach 129th Street to Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 98th Street where the parade ended. 

I headed back home, stopping in every bar along the way to photograph and have a beer with the marchers. I made it about halfway home before I had to call my wife to come get me. 

The parade returned to Rockaway this year, after two years of Covid-19 related cancellations.

Young boy after the parade, 1997

***

Larry Racioppo returned to South Brooklyn in 1970 after two years in California as a VISTA volunteer and had no plans and a $30 camera he barely knew how to use. He took a course at the School of Visual Arts, a job with the telephone company and began to photograph his family and friends. 

Things worked out better than he could have expected.

Website: larryracioppo.com

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