Grand marshal named for 69th annual St. Patrick’s parade

Grand marshal named for 69th annual St. Patrick’s parade

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John McNamara. Photo from Ray O'Sullivan

By David Luces

Described as a man who has devoted his time to the community and his faith, John McNamara was genuinely surprised when he received the news from the Friends of St. Patrick organization that he was chosen to be the grand marshal of the 69th Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

“I was shocked and pleasantly surprised,” he said.  

McNamara and his wife, Kathy, have lived in Rocky Point since 1978 where they raised four children: Erin, John, Mark and Kathleen, and now the couple has six grandchildren. He has been involved over the years with the St. Louis de Montfort Church in Sound Beach in teaching and ministry. He is also involved in his local parishes, namely St. Anthony of Padua Church in Rocky Point and St. Mark’s Parish in Shoreham where he has been a youth minister since 1979. He also taught at Maria Regina High School in Uniondale. 

Scene from the Miller Place-Rocky Point Friends of St. Patrick’s parade. File Photo by Bob Savage

The Rocky Point resident acknowledged that being named the grand marshal is a great honor, and he is excited to be a part of the parade and for his family to be there as well. 

“When I told my family the news, they were very happy and surprised — just like I was,”
he said. 

McNamara is excited for his grandchildren to be a part of the festivities as they carry banners along the parade route. 

On March 17, McNamara will lead the nearly three-mile march down Route 25A. He said the  parade is a way of thanking the community for all they do. 

Ray O’Sullivan, secretary for the Friends of St. Patrick has known McNamara for most of his life through the St. Louis de Montfort Church. 

“He is a good man — a holy man,” he said. “We came to the decision to name John the grand marshal this year.”

O’Sullivan said McNamara is well-known for serving the community and that generations of people know him through his work in
the churches. 

This year’s Miller Place-Rocky Point Parade will also honor James O’Sullivan, who passed away in January, 2017. He was a former president of Friends of St. Patrick and was a member of the organization for over 60 years.

“Jimmy was a great fellow,” McNamara said. “He was a great guy and a caring man who loved helping the community. His sons are members of the organization and continue to do his work.”

O’Sullivan said that his father was the Grand Marshal of the 1965 parade and held every position in the Friends of St. Patrick’s organization. He would work hours before the parade started to make sure everything was ready to go.

“He gave everything to the organization,” O’Sullivan said. “The parade meant everything to my dad because of his heritage,”

Ray’s father came to the United States from Ireland in the mid 1950s and his uncle John Sullivan started the parade in 1950.

“He is a good man — a holy man.”

— Ray O’Sullivan

“Miller Place and Rocky Point was his adopted home, and he wanted to serve the community,” O’Sullivan said.

The Rocky Point High School Marching Band, the Patriot Brass Ensemble and the Colonial Fife and Drum are just a handful of groups that will be participating in this year’s parade

The Friends of St. Patrick will also host a Luck of the Irish Casino Night, March 8 from 7 to 11 p.m. at The East Wind resort in Wading River. The casino night will serve as the main fundraiser for the parade. The queen and her court for the Rocky Point-Miller Place St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be crowned, and the grand marshal formally introduced at the event as well. There will be a buffet dinner and an open bar. Tickets are $75 per person. For more information on the event visit
www.friendsofstpatrick.org.