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New York Mayor To March In St. Patrick's Day Parade After 2-Year Boycott

Marchers walk past a group of protesters during the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York last year.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will march in the city's St. Patrick's Day parade, ending his two-year boycott over a ban on LGBT groups.

NPR's Hansi Lo Wang tells our Newscast unit that the mayor's decision comes after organizers allowed a new group to march in the upcoming parade. New York's is the largest and oldest St. Patrick's Day parade in the country.

"Now we have an opportunity for everyone from that community to join together in celebrating their heritage, their pride in what the Irish have done for New York and America," de Blasio said during the announcement.

Here's more from Hansi:

"New York City's 255th annual St. Patrick's Day parade will allow one Irish LGBT group to march up Fifth Avenue with their own banner, after years of protests by activists and no-shows by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"De Blasio says he'll march with both the Lavender and Green Alliance — and New York City police and firefighters.

"Last year's parade included an openly gay group of employees from NBC — the event's local broadcaster.

"Organizers wouldn't say if more Irish LGBT groups can march next year."

As we reported, the parade organizers lifted their formal ban on gay groups in September 2014.

But some advocates were not satisfied with having only OUT@NBCUniversal in last year's parade. The group isn't Irish, and the fact that NBC was the parade's broadcaster led to accusations of a corporate deal.

De Blasio told The New York Times at the time that "a lot of people feel, I think rightfully, that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade."

And as Hansi reported last year, the group "was scheduled to start marching after the broadcast ended."

Traditionally, any new group in the parade marches in the back, and the older, more established participants have earlier billing, the Associated Press reports. This year, "parade organizers said the new gay group would not be placed at the end of the lineup."

Not everyone is happy with the changes. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called de Blasio a "disgrace who bullied everyone to having the type of parade that he wanted," the Associated Press reports.

NPR's Rachel Martin delved into what this parade means in a 2014 interview with novelist Peter Quinn, who writes about Irish America. Here's what he said:

"And it's, you know, been a traditional assertion of Irish identity and Irish presence in New York, especially for the immigrant community which came here and felt that it was very unwelcome.


"You know, the parade is about inclusion. I think that was in the beginning, about immigrant communities trying to find its way in. And I think that immigrant community should be inclusive within its own borders. Times have changed."

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