Out in Belle Harbor, a suburban-looking neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula, the first Saturday in March means it’s time to break out the novelty shamrock accessories, drape Irish flags over the front porch, and start the party early for the annual Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade. This past weekend marked the 44th time Rockaway has hosted the parade, and the locals lined the streets to cheer on the modestly-sized marching pipe and drum bands, troupes of Irish dancers, cheerleader squads, and FDNY vehicles.

There were politicians on hand of course, including Attorney General Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who is running for Queens District Attorney. Pretty much everyone along the route was openly drinking booze, and the temperature was just warm enough at step-off time to make for pleasant gawking conditions. But it's the kids who always seem to have the most fun at the parade, and the whole celebration feels almost bizarrely small town, though you're just a few blocks from the subway.

St. Patrick's Day proper falls on a Sunday this year, so they've moved the big Manhattan parade to Saturday, March 16th, which means it should be even more crowded and sloppy than usual.