As is custom out on the Rockaway peninsula, St. Patrick’s Day came a couple of weeks early as hundreds of locals took to the streets on Saturday afternoon for the 43rd annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade. There were bagpipers and novelty leprechaun accessories, high school cheerleaders and brazen public drinking, Irish dancers and union marching bands, cute little kids and craggy Grand Marshals, green everything and terrible t-shirts that said things like “Drunk Lives Matter.”

Unique among the several St. Patrick’s parades occurring all over the city this month (including, of course, the main event in Manhattan on the 17th), there’s a distinct small-town vibe to the Rockaway celebration, especially at the parade’s start in suburban-looking Belle Harbor. Many NYPD and FDNY families live out here, and everyone seems to know everyone else along Newport Avenue. The scene shifts a bit when the parade hits Rockaway Beach Boulevard, which still has a number of bordered-up buildings around Beach 116th Street, as well as the high-rises overlooking the boardwalk.

There were scant few elected officials in attendance, with the notable exception of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who marched the entire route with a small entourage. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer made an appearance towards the end of afternoon at the reviewing stand.