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Pride and pain as St. Patrick's parade marches through Sandy-hit Rockaways

Mark Lennihan / AP

The Staten Island Pipes and Drum band marches in the Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Rockaway section of New York on Saturday. The oceanside community was devastated by flooding and fire during Superstorm Sandy. Behind them is rubble left over from a fire that burned a number of stores in Rockaway Park.

Hundreds marched Saturday through an area that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in the annual Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade, but joy mixed with sorrow as evidence of the destruction persists four months after the storm hit.

The parade passed through several blocks in the Belle Harbor area, where fires triggered by the storm burned dozens of houses to the ground, NBC New York reported. Marchers also passed a block of burned stores in Rockaway Park.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the parade, wearing a sash that said “Thanks” in Gaelic, according to The New York Times.

The Rockaway peninsula of Queens includes several predominantly Irish-American neighborhoods that were devastated when Sandy hit on Oct. 29.

“We go through problems, but human beings are able to cry and laugh at the same time,” Bloomberg said, according to the newspaper. “We have to celebrate how far we’ve come and what the hope is for the future.”

Amid residents showing their Irish pride, some marchers also held signs with messages about the post-Sandy recovery. "DOS [Department of Sanitation] You Rocked Sandy," one read, according to DNAinfo.com, while another, critical of the administration, read: "Mr. Mayor Listen to Rockaway."

As the mayor marched along, some residents booed him in disapproval of his handling of the area's problems in Sandy's wake.

But a few blocks from the parade route, rebuilding efforts were in full swing, as workers continued repairs on storm-damaged homes.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Families watch the Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Rockaway section of New York on Saturday.