March for Small Businesses hits $25K goal

Tom Carrozza for LI Herald

March 25, 2021

Originally published in Long Island Herald on March 25, 2021.

The Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade has looked a bit different the last two years, but that has not stopped the “parade that shares and cares” from supporting the community and hitting its goals.

A village institution over the past 25 years, the parade has been turned into an online fundraiser to aid local small businesses and employees who were hardest hit by the pandemic financially.

As of last Saturday, the day the parade would have been held, the March for Small Businesses had already hit the $25,000 goal that would benefit three small businesses with $5,000 each and ten employees with $1,000 each.

But that is not stopping the parade committee from continuing to ask for more donations to try to assist additional local employees and businesses. The committee continues to sell lawn signs and bows through local florist Art Flowers & Gift Shoppe and provide local restaurants, pubs and businesses with QR codes to direct residents to the link to donate.

“With a little Irish luck and a lot of spreading the word, we may not even need a nominating committee by month’s end,” Board of Directors member Ann Travers, of the parade committee, said. “How terrific would it be if we could fund every business and individual who was nominated?”

Currently, 20 small businesses and employees have been nominated to receive the funds, and 10 employees and three businesses have been chosen to benefit.

“I don’t know of any parade committee in the entire United States that cares and shares the way we do,” said Andrew Healey, president of the RVC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

This year’s iteration of the parade kicked off with a tree lighting at RVC Village Hall, where the March received a $10,000 donation from the Rockville Centre Community Fund. Since the first annual parade on March 22, 1997, the parade has donated $1.3 million to more than 70 charities.

The parade committee prides itself on donating all of its net proceeds to charity.

Travers said she got the idea for this year’s fundraising efforts from the Barstool Fund, which saw the titular sports media company support small businesses that were in need of help after Covid-19 hit.

“I asked the board what they thought about doing something similar on a local level,” Travers said. “They jumped on it.”

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin were delighted to see the parade committee’s small business aid.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Rockville Centre small businesses incredibly hard — and as our community continues its recovery, it is vital that we support our local stores and eateries,” Kaminsky said.

Judy Griffin, who was in attendance at the tree lighting, said the march is “an ideal way to support our small businesses and some hard-working village employees who have endured multiple challenges throughout the past year.”