When Staten Island's St. Patrick's Day parade kicks off Sunday, it will do so without most of the borough's elected officials.
One by one, local politicians have declared they will not march, because parade's organizers, the local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, will not let Staten Island's largest LGBT group march under its own banner.
"It's sad, right?” says Carol Bullock from the Pride Center of Staten Island. “Because that's the whole part of this is, we want to march. And I'm sure they do as well. But I'm also extremely appreciative. They're standing in support of us."
Borough President James Oddo, a Republican, and Congressman Max Rose, a Democrat, have said they won't march.
Neither will City Council members Debi Rose and Steve Matteo, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, and State Senator Diane Savino. On Wednesday, District Attorney Michael McMahon announced that he will not march either.
The north shore Democrat has a long history with the parade, funding it during his tenure in the City Council, and attending dozens of events leading up to the parade for years.
Writing in the Staten Island Advance, McMahon said the "very spirit of being Irish” demands that all "reasonable and legitimate groups who wish to march and join in this celebration of Irish heritage and community."
He goes on, "Accordingly, on this coming Sunday, I will proudly don my green attire; I will faithfully attend morning mass at Blessed Sacrament Church.... This year, however, I will dutifully watch and cheer on the parade from the sidelines."
Bullock is grateful for the support.
"At the end of the day, I've been able to sit down and have dialogue with people and talk about why it’s important for us and that someone like Mike Cusick and Mike McMahon understand the importance and the message that this is sending," says Bullock.
"I think they should just let the parade march, the Pride Center march and just stop the controversy now,” says Joseph Borelli, a South Shore City Councilman. “It just makes no sense. And it's not right."
Congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis says she will march, as will Assemblyman Mike Reilly. It's unclear whether State Senator Andrew Lanza will march. Councilman Joe Borelli says he'll march if his kids and the weather cooperate.