With the official celebration of St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, the New York State Senate Education Committee approved legislation (S.1933) co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. to allow New York City schools to recognize March 17th as an official holiday.
“With New York City’s large and vibrant Irish-American population, it makes sense to close local schools on a day that is traditionally reserved for celebration, cultural appreciation, and religious observance by many people of Irish descent,” said Addabbo. “Areas of my Senate district encompassing the Rockaway Peninsula have been referred to as the ‘Irish Riviera,’ and I can attest that from Breezy Point throughout the eastern communities on the peninsula, the grand tradition of Irish cultural pride is an integral part of family life. On March 3rd, in fact, the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cultural Committee held its 43rd Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Rockaway – an event that everyone, Irish or not, comes together to enjoy.”
Under the legislation, schools in New York City could close on St. Patrick’s Day in recognition of the significant Irish-American population in the five boroughs and not be penalized by a loss of state school aid.
“In 2014, New York State approved a law to enable the Board of Education to determine whether holding classes on days associated with religious or cultural holidays would waste educational resources when significantly fewer students attend school,” said Addabbo. “With the City’s large population of Irish-American students, families, and educational staff, closing schools for St. Patrick’s Day seems to make both cultural and economic sense.”
Addabbo noted that the annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Rockaways, combined with the legendary New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan, demonstrate the City’s leadership status as a center of Irish culture, heritage and pride.
“We need only to look at these gatherings – which draw enormous crowds every year and contribute significantly to our local economies – to know that just about everyone is a little bit Irish in New York City this time of year,” he said. “I hope our educational community will soon be able to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day as a school holiday and officially join in celebrating our City’s many ties with the Emerald Isle.”
The legislation will now go to the full State Senate for consideration.