Pheffer Amato Pushes State Recognition for St. Patrick’s Day

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway) introduced a bill this past week to make St. Patrick’s Day an official school holiday in New York State. Citing the high percentage of Irish residents in her district, the centrality of Irish culture to the South Queens community and the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day as a family holiday, Pheffer Amato said it was “long past due” that New York State “recognize this fact of community life and let families celebrate together.”

Saint Patrick, a fifth-century missionary and bishop, is the patron saint not only of the Republic of Ireland, but also of the Archdioceses of New York, Newark and Boston, of engineers, and of paralegals. The Rockaway Peninsula, comprising the majority of Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato’s district, has broad and deep Irish roots. New York State is heavily Irish, with almost 13% of all state residents claiming Irish as their primary ethnicity. The Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, held in Rockaway Beach, is the second-biggest in New York City. This year, Pheffer Amato served as Deputy Grand Marshall in the parade.

“As a girl, I went to the Parade with my family,” said Pheffer Amato. “After Christmas and Thanksgiving, I can’t think of a day that more unites Americans than St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish have left an outsize mark on our society, on our politics, on our idea of what it is to be American. On St. Patrick’s Day and throughout the year, they open their hearts and their traditions to us, inviting us to celebrate with them. The least we can do is to allow our Irish neighbors the same joy and camaraderie they give to our community and to our country every day.”

“St Patrick's Day should be a national holiday, celebrating all the contributions the Irish have made to American culture, history, social mores, education, business and military,” said Mike Benn, the Queens County Parade Committee Chairman and a native-born Irishman. “But failing that, I'm thrilled to support a long-overdue State holiday, in the state perhaps most shaped by its Irish roots.”

“It was a pleasure to march with Stacey in the parade and her leadership is appreciated by our community,” said William Lynn, Business Manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30 and Grand Marshal of this year’s Queens County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. “Irish culture is a big part of the history and tradition of the labor movement as well as the overall fabric of New York State. Let’s take this small but important step to make the holiday official and let millions of New York families celebrate together.”