History will be made Tuesday at the St. Patrick's Day parade as an LGBTQ group for the first time will openly march under its own banner.
Some elected officials and gay rights groups, however, say the event still needs to be more inclusive.
New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade Inc., the parade's organizer, said letting OUT@NBCUniversal march was the right decision. The organizer added it wanted to open the celebrations to more New Yorkers.
The move was seen by critics as a way to bring back the prominent figures and sponsors who dropped out of last year's parade, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Guinness.The mayor and City Council will remain absent, they said, because organizers didn't include other LGBTQ groups.
"I've made very clear that there has to be more progress for me to consider marching in the parade," the mayor told reporters two weeks ago. "I think a lot of other leaders feel the same way we do."
Saint Patrick's Day Parade Inc. didn't return messages for comment. The nonprofit has said it couldn't include other LGBTQ groups because spots for marchers were filled up, but those organizations can apply for the 2016 parade. Irish Queers, an activist group said they plan to protest the parade.
The group said the organizers continue "to marginalize and shame Irish LGBTQ people," and called the decision to approve Out@NBCUniversal an act to woo back their sponsors.
"The parade organizers have claimed a right to discriminate against us because they're running it as a Catholic procession. But even the Cardinal calls it 'a celebration of all things Irish,' " group member Gaby Cryan said in a statement.
The inclusion of Out@NBCUniversal, made up of LGBTQ employees of the parade's broadcaster NBCUniversal, brought back Heineken and Guinness as sponsors but resulted in the Catholic League, a longtime participant, skipping this year's event.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, announced in September that he would boycott the parade because organizers wouldn't allow anti-abortion groups to march.
Despite the controversy, thousands of revelers are expected to line Fifth Avenue between 44th and 79th streets. Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be this year's grand marshal and dozens of groups will be marching, including the FDNY and NYPD.
Paradegoers might want to bring their umbrellas -- showers are expected in the morning and high winds later in the day. streets to celebrate Irish Pride.
The march starts near St. Patrick's Cathedral around 11 a.m. will go north until 5 p.m. Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be the grand marshal.
As in the past, organizers promised that there will be plenty of floats, bag pipers, and dancers to entertain the hundreds of thousands expected to be attendance.