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Grand Marshal

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Denise Davis. St. James Chamber of Commerce

By Grace Smith

St. James resident Denise Davis will experience the 35th annual St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade from a different perspective this year.

“I was shocked. I don’t know how they did it without me knowing.”

— Denise Davis

Since joining the hamlet’s chamber of commerce in 2004, Davis has marched at the forefront of the parade followed by floats, bagpipers and a sea of green. This year, she’ll trade carrying the chamber’s “St. Patrick’s Day” banner for a green checkered sash emblazoned with gold capital letters that will read “GRAND MARSHAL.”

“I was shocked. I don’t know how they did it without me knowing,” Davis said with a chuckle, referring to the board’s decision. “It’s really very special. I’m very honored.”

The 51-year-old, who has served as the chamber’s vice president since 2018, said her first thought upon being announced as grand marshal was of her late mother, Margaret Murphy.

“You couldn’t get more Irish than her,” Davis said, recalling her mother’s “Irish corner” — a small space in her childhood home’s kitchen filled with Irish plates and wooden plaques that read ‘Proud to be Irish.’ “I know she’s smiling down.”

Davis moved to St. James in 2003 after falling in love with the hamlet’s small-town feel. Having grown up in Brentwood, she said she wanted to raise a family in a close-knit community. It was also the perfect place to start her graphic design business, Artpix Studio, which she runs out of her home’s converted attic space.

Davis’ handiwork can be seen throughout the town. Since starting her business, the St. James resident has been the hamlet’s go-to artist for banners, logos and acrylic paintings, according to chamber President Scott Posner.

“She is awesome at what she creates,” he said.

However, Davis said her top responsibility this year is to bring the community together and pay homage to her Irish roots.

“Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” she said.

Parade Director Kerry Maher, who has served on the chamber’s board of directors for the past 18 years, referred to her colleague as “the perfect fit” for grand marshal.

“She really is the town’s unsung hero,” she said.

“She really is the town’s unsung hero.”

— Kerry Maher

Maher pointed to Davis’ volunteer work as a board member for the Deepwells Farm Historical Society, a nonprofit organization that runs year-round events at the historic 1845 mansion, and active involvement in the Mills Pond Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Association.

“Her love of the town is endless,” Maher said.

On March 16, Davis will walk along Woodlawn and Lake avenues amid children from the community dressed as Irish princes and princesses. She said it sparks memories of when her daughters, Jillian and Jacqueline, did the same. However, this year Davis will be joined not by her daughters, but rather by her dog, Eloise, who also serves as the chamber’s mascot.

“The parade is fabulous, the town is fabulous because we have everyone working together,” Davis said. “Like anything else, you’re stronger together.”

The St. James St. Patrick’s Day parade will kick off at 1 p.m.starting at the Smithtown High School East parking lot on Woodlawn Avenue traveling to Lake Avenue and continuing to the St. James Gazebo at the railroad station.

2018 St. Patrick's Day Parade. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh
This article has been revised to reflect the correct date of the event. The parade will be held today, March 10, rain or shine at 2 p.m. We regret the error.

By Christina Coulter

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade grand marshal has enough Irish in him to go around. 

Timothy Rossiter

Thousands will line the streets of New York Avenue and Main Street in Huntington Village March 10 for the 85th iteration of the community’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the most time-honored celebration of the holiday on Long Island. This year, full-blooded Irishman and longtime Huntington Hibernian Timothy Rossiter, 72, will lead the parade as grand marshal in a traditional morning suit tuxedo and a dyed-green boutonniere. It will also be his 25th year participating.

“It’s a grand tradition of the Irish people and it gives one the opportunity to express your heritage to the community,” said Rossiter. “It’s just a very, very fun day — everybody wishes they were Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. It brings the community together, and that’s probably the most important thing.”

Rossiter, who was born in Brooklyn, said he was appointed to the dignified position during the group’s Halfway to Saint Patty’s Day dinner in September of last year. He joined Division 4 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the largest Irish Catholic fraternal order in the U.S., in 1994. Since then, he has been involved in countless St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, annual turkey drives and other charity efforts. A regular hospice volunteer, he also serves on the Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk, is acting treasurer of the area American Legion Post 360 and serves on the Hibernians’ charity fundraising arm, the board of Taispeain Charities. He said he uses his business connections as president of the Rossiter Financial Group to help raise funds. A golf enthusiast, Rossiter heads up the Hibernians’ Paul Costello Memorial Golf Outing, which supports local food pantries annually. 

 “I was asked to join the Hibernians way back when — I was interested in community service and this was a way to give back to the community,” he said. “I love the aspect that [Huntington] is relatively small, it’s very community-driven. Mostly, people get along with one another extremely well. It presents a good environment to bring up your children and it’s also a very vibrant business community.”

Rossiter said that the Hibernians attend a 10 a.m. Mass before marching, followed by a breakfast of scrambled eggs and Guinness. After years of participation, he will finally be able to rest his feet in a reviewer’s booth, where he will sidle off to early in the procession.

Beginning at 2 p.m. at the Huntington train station, the parade will include 2,000 participants and feature performances from a slew of bands and drum corps, including the New York Police Department’s The Emerald Society along with local high school marching bands and pipe bands. After turning west onto Main Street, the procession will funnel into Saint Patrick’s Church at 400 West Main St. 

A parade route and further information can be accessed at http://www.huntingtonhibernian.com. The preceding annual Grand Marshal’s Ball will be held at The Larkfield Restaurant in East Northport at 6 p.m. on March 8. Raffle tickets cost $175 at the door, and the grand prize is a trip for two to Ireland. Proceeds will go toward parade costs.

“I’m so excited I’m ready to jump out of my skin,” said Rossiter. “I’m very humbled and it’s quite an honor to be chosen to lead the parade.”

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The Nally boys, pictured from left, Gene, Tom and John, will serve as grand marshals of the Kings Park's 2019 St. Patrick's Day parade. Photo from KP parade committee

By Kevin Matyi

Some would say the Nally family name is synonymous with Kings Park.

Tom Nally, who shares a name with his late father who died in 2017, said that his family has been deeply ingrained in Kings Park’s community. Both Tom and his father worked as teachers and coaches for Kings Park High School. His mother, Diane, worked for St. Joseph’s School of Religion. His brother, John, worked as a pharmacist at Genovese Drug Stores while Gene Nally went into local politics.

“It just feels like Kings Park is an extension of my family,” Tom Nally said.

It just feels like Kings Park is an extension of my family.”

— Tom Nally

The family has lived in the community for nearly 120 years, spanning six generations.

“This community has shown me what it means to care for your neighbors and to be there when they need you,” John Nally said. “This town has always been there for my family through good times and bad, and I am forever grateful.”

These contributions are part of why the Nally Boys, Tom, John and Gene, were selected as grand marshals for the 2019 Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Together, the three brothers will lead a multitude of bands, floats and local organizations and businesses in marching along Main Street.

“Since the parade’s inception, the Nally family has been a staple in the parade, resplendent and enthusiastic in a pickup truck … emblazoned with the Nally Boys banner,” reads the parade’s website.

Both Tom and John Nally attributed the original concept of the truck and its banner to their father.

Tom Nally said one of his favorite memories of the past was seeing how excited his father would become while gathering items to decorate the truck.

“He was always figuring out ways to make more room in the back of the pickup truck to fit more family members,” he said.

His brother recalled the family’s first time preparing to take part in the Kings Park tradition.

“I remember when Tom [Sr.] first told us we would be in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” John Nally said. “He was all excited and worked hard to get the truck clean and had a banner made heralding our family’s roots in County Westmeath in Ireland.”

Each year, the number of Nally family and friends riding along the parade route in the pickup truck has continued to grow, turning it into a tradition. Upon being presented with their sashes at the Grand Marshal Ball in November, John Nally said he was filled with a sense of pride.

“Our Irish heritage has always been important to our family and to be singled out was extremely humbling,” he said.

Our Irish heritage has always been important to our family and to be singled out was extremely humbling.”

— John Nally

While the three brothers are often called the Nally Boys, John Nally said they would never forget their sister, Terri, who passed away in 2002.

“She was a very important member of our family and an integral part of the community,” he said.

John Nally said he knows that his father and sister will be with them in spirit as the three brothers take their places March 2.

“When we take our place in the front of the parade this year, I know Tom [Sr.] will be smiling down on us,” John Nally said. “He was the architect of this journey and to not have him with us will be extremely bittersweet. To have his son, Thomas, walk with us will ease the pain and we know Tom will be with us in spirit. Both he and my sister, Terri, would be extremely proud.”

The 2019 Kings Park’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will step off March 2 at noon from the intersection of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Road at the Celtic Crossing bar.

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A scene from this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Kings Park. Photo by Mark D’Angio

The parade may be over, but the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee has been keeping busy, working on the preparations for its 2017 Grand Marshal Ball and 2017 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Within three weeks of the 2016 parade, one of the largest on Long Island, committee members were reviewing various phases of the 2016 parade. The first order of business was to select a grand marshal. In an unprecedented move, the McWilliams Sisters — Cathy Donnelly, Barbara Griffin and Marge Stajk — were named to lead the 2017 St. Patrick’s Parade.

This honor is believed to be unique, as three siblings were named grand marshals, the organizers said.

The McWilliams sisters were selected based on their Irish heritage, community spirit, and personal demeanor. Their parents, Edward and Margaret McWilliams, moved from County Carlow, Ireland, settling in Kings Park, where the parents opened the Park Diner in 1944. The family consisted of three sisters, Catherine, Barbara, and Margaret, and three brothers, Edward, Joseph, and Ronald.

The sisters attended St. Joseph’s School until the 8th grade, graduated from Kings Park High School, and raised their families in Kings Park. The parade committee noted that each sister donated time and efforts toward various charitable endeavors, especially as members of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 3.

The Grand Marshal Ball will be held at Flowerfields, on Friday, November 18. The event will consist of the presentation of the “McWilliams Sisters,” Irish music and dance, raffles, and live band. The Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day parade will be held on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

The committee thanked Kevin “The Professor” Denis for his extraordinary efforts as its chairman. As one of the Parade’s founders, he excelled at raising the necessary funding for the parade, which features more than 20 bagpipe bands, fire departments, floats, and organizations. During the past six years, the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become one of the largest parades on Long Island. Denis will continue to aid the committee. Kevin Johnston was named the committee’s new chairman.

Retired 2nd Precinct leader to head up Sept. 12 event

The 6th annual Huntington Awareness Day parade will feature longtime commander of the 2nd Precinct as its grand marshal, and will also honor a number of community members from across Huntington Town.

Ed Brady file photo by Rohma Abbas
Ed Brady file photo by Rohma Abbas

Inspector Edward Brady, who retired earlier this year at the helm of the 2nd Precinct, which serves Huntington, will lead the festivities as the parade’s grand marshal on Saturday, Sept. 12, according to a town statement. Honors will also be bestowed on a police officer wounded in the line of duty, a 101-year-old wartime aircraft worker, a volunteer VA chaplain and two families with longtime contributions to the community.

Those honorees include Suffolk County Police Officer Mark Collins, a 12-year veteran of the force who was shot in the neck and hip in March while chasing a suspected gang member who had fled after a traffic stop in Huntington Station; Sophie Sarro, a 101-year-old Huntington Station native who while trained as a seamstress worked during World War II helping to manufacture airplanes for Grumman Aircraft; and Frank LaBarbara, a Korean War veteran and retired owner of an engineering-manufacturing company who has volunteered for many years as a Eucharistic minister at the Northport VA Medical Center.

Also to be honored are the Harris and Sorrentino families. The Harris patriarch, Rufus Harris, is an accomplished mechanic who overcame segregation in South Carolina, moved to Huntington and founded an automobile repair shop, Rufus & Sons, which was one of the first African-American owned businesses in Huntington. The shop included two generations of the Harris family and was in business for 40 years.

The Sorrentino family has been fixtures on the Huntington business scene for many years. Andrea Sorrentino has operated a shoe repair shop in Huntington village for 35 years and his sons, Pasquale and Andre, own an auto body shop. The have been active in civic and charitable affairs, as well as in the Huntington Fire Department, where Andre Sorrentino is a commissioner.  For each of the past five Thanksgivings, the family has given away 300 turkeys to needy families.

Bands, floats, vintage cars, service groups and local merchants will join the march down New York Avenue through Huntington Station from West Hills Road to the municipal parking lot between Railroad and Church streets. The parking lot will also be the location of the annual Awareness Day fair, which will include performances by local artists and booths offering crafts and services. The parade will begin at 11 a.m. and the fair will remain open until 5 p.m.

“We hope that people will come to the parade and stay for the festival, which thanks to the generosity of our sponsors remains a great day of entertainment, free activities for children and a chance to learn about the many organizations offering services to help the community,” said parade founder Dolores Thompson.

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