After two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, folks young and old were finally able to enjoy their beloved St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Hosted by the Friends of St. Patrick, the 70-year-old tradition returned to the streets of Miller Place and Rocky Point where a sea of green made of marching band members, bagpipers, local fire departments, public figures, vintage cars and more flowed past waves of revellers.
After a two year hiatus brought on by COVID 19 restrictions and mandates, The Friends of St. Patrick will resume a springtime tradition by hosting the 70th annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 13 starting at 1 p.m. sharp. This year the committee has named all former Grand Marshals to be Grand Marshals at this year’s parade.
“North Shore residents have been cooped up and socially distanced for two long years now. It is time to break free and come out and celebrate with your community in this annual rite of spring. Pipe bands, fire trucks, dancers and marchers promise to lift all our spirits,” said a press release.
In lieu of naming a Queen and her Court, the Friends of St. Patrick have begun a scholarship fund for our local high schools. This year’s winner of a $1,000 scholarship is Alexa Zichinelli from Miller Place High School. Alexa wrote an essay on Irish history and lore inspired by her great-great Grandma, Mary Margaret McArdle from County Clare.
Alexa will be studying pre-med in college and is an active athlete, musician, tutor and volunteer. She aspires to become a surgeon and be a part of Doctor Without Borders.
For further information please visit their website at www.friendsofsaintpatrick.com or call 631-473-5100.
Editor’s note: As of March 12, the St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been postponed.
During this year’s 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. James, spectators will witness a first — two grand marshals leading the parade.
Hosted by the St. James Chamber of Commerce, the parade committee has chosen residents Kerry Reilly DeJesus and Mario Mattera as grand marshals for 2020. William Garthe, chamber board member, said each year residents are asked to write in to say who they would like to see lead the parade. This year the chamber received an overwhelming and equal number of nominations for Mattera and DeJesus.
Mattera said he was surprised when he heard he was chosen because he thought the grand marshal had to be of Irish descent. The St. James resident said he was humbled and honored.
When he heard DeJesus was also chosen, he was thrilled and described her as a wonderful person.
“Just her personality brings a smile to your face,” he said. “That’s the type of woman Kerry is. We need more of that.”
DeJesus also had complimentary things to say about Mattera.
“I couldn’t be in better company than Mario,” she said, adding she was overwhelmed when she heard the news that she was chosen.
“I was so flattered,” she said. “I thought that was so sweet of them to think of me.”
Mattera, a Smithtown resident for 55 years, moved from Nesconset to St. James in 1996. He said his wife of 26 years, Terry, and his two daughters Jessica and Jayme will be on hand to walk with him in the parade.
The husband and father is the business agent for Plumbers Local Union 200 of Ronkonkoma. In addition to his work with the union, he is a member of the Smithtown Executive Board representing St. James, and on the boards of Community Association of Greater St. James, the Suffolk County Water Authority and the Suffolk County Consumer Affairs Plumbing, Licensing and Fire Protection. He is also a Suffolk County Workforce Housing Committee member, the plumber’s union chairman for the political PAC fund for the county and board member for the New York State Apprenticeship Committee.
In his free time, he volunteers with Helmets to Hardhats, which works with returning veterans, and he also finds time to cheer on the Smithtown High School East’s Whisperettes, the kickline team, of which both of his daughters have been members.
DeJesus works as a call center manager for the Stony Brook University’s Southampton Hospital. She has lived in St. James for more than two decades where she and her husband, Ralph, of 25 years, have raised four children. She said she’s excited that her son Ralph Jr., who is serving in the U.S. Marines, has been granted a weekend leave to march with her and the family.
The wife and mother has taught religion at St. Philip and St. James R.C. Church, and with her teaching career in St. James and past service in two other churches, she earned a 20-year service award. She has also been active in the Smithtown Central School District as a Family Living chairperson working on food drives at Mills Pond Elementary School and was vice president of the PTA at the elementary school for two years. She later went on to serve as PTA president for two years. As her children advanced in the school district, so did DeJesus. For three years she was PTA president at Nesaquake Middle School and then did the same for six years at Smithtown High School East’s PTA. She has worked in other roles too as Spiritwear chairperson, recording secretary, vice president and a two-year stint as council president and vice president for the district.
Outside of religious instruction and the school district, DeJesus said she has been a Girl and Boy Scouts leader for her children’s troops. She has volunteered through the years at Deepwells Haunted Mansion where she has played a witch and dead doll, as well as working the concession.
“That’s a lot of fun,” she said. “That’s another great community thing that we do in St. James.”
While Mattera has participated in past parades with the car club, DeJesus has marched with the Boy and Girl Scouts. When it comes to parades, both grand marshals agree it’s important for communities.
“It brings everyone together, and bringing the community together, especially with the feeling right now — that we’re going to give the town a jump start — it’s a lot,” Mattera said, referencing the revitalization of
DeJesus said parades are also a way to draw people to St. James from other hamlets in the township. Plus, she said the St. Patrick’s Day Parade signals that spring is around the corner and gets everyone out of their homes.
“I feel like I’m reconnecting with old friends when I see all these people,” she said.
Mattera and DeJesus will be joined by the parade’s princesses and princes. The court includes two-year-old Avianna Manning, St. James Elementary School third-grader Juliana Cating Gleeson, kindergartener Jayden Cassidy Gleeson, third-grader Samantha Keil, first-grader Violet Keil, third-grader Mia Sherlock, kindergartener Sydney Sherlock, fourth-grader Ethan Tuzinkiewicz, second-grader Benjamin Tuzinkiewicz, first-grader Daniel Tuzinkiewicz and Nesaquake Middle School sixth-grade studentw Kayla Moore.
The St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at the Smithtown High School East parking lot on Woodlawn Avenue and travels to Lake Avenue where it makes a right and continues to the St. James Gazebo by the Long Island Rail Road station.
Kings Park resident Jim Girvan was thrilled when he heard he would be this year’s grand marshal in the hamlet’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“As a Scout in parades, I never thought I would be a grand marshal,” he said, adding that when he was a kid, he would march in fire department parades.
Kevin Johnston, chair of the parade committee, said Girvan was the perfect choice for grand marshal. He remembered Girvan saying that when he was younger, he wanted a place where he had friends, a job and a town, and he found that in Kings Park.
“He epitomizes what we consider Kings Parkers,” Johnston said.
The committee chair described this year’s grand marshal as a delight to be around.
“It’s that Irish smile of his that is just beaming,” Johnston said. “He has a very welcoming and endearing smile and that’s what kind of brings people in.”
The 88-year-old Girvan has a deep connection with Ireland. His father, John Girvan, was raised there, and while his mother Mary McGuckin was born in Scotland, she was of Irish descent.
It’s Kings Park though where Girvan has established deep roots.
His father worked in a naval yard in Staten Island, and as a semiprofessional soccer player, would travel out to Kings Park to entertain patients at the psychiatric hospital. Girvan said when his father broke his leg and lost his job at the naval yard, he was offered a position as a kitchen helper at the hospital and worked his way up to head cook.
That move was a fateful one for Girvan, who has lived in Kings Park most of his life except for two years when he was a nurse in Philadelphia. He and his wife have also raised six children in the hamlet.
After graduating from St. Joseph’s R.C. Church’s grammar school, he said he received a scholastic scholarship to Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. Girvan said he attended the school for two years until he asked his father if he could go to Kings Park High School. The grand marshal said he loved playing basketball, but couldn’t participate while commuting to the city to attend school, sometimes not returning home until 8 p.m.
He would go on to not only graduate from Kings Park High School but to also be part of the basketball team that won the 1950 Suffolk County Championship, the first time the school won a county title in the sport.
“He epitomizes what we consider Kings Parkers.”
— Kevin Johnston
Girvan went into nursing and worked at the Kings Park Psychiatric Center and then Northport Veterans Hospital. He said he was drafted by the army in 1966 but then was commissioned by the navy to work as a nurse in Philadelphia Naval Hospital, where he supervised the Acute PTSD Admissions Unit.
After two years living in New Jersey with his wife and children, and commuting to the Pennsylvania hospital, Girvanand family returned to Kings Park. Through the decades the grand marshal has been involved in the Knights of Columbus, Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Kings Park Fire Department and Ambulance Committee and more. To this day, he is an usher at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church.
When it comes to Kings Park, Girvan realizes there has been a lot of development through the years, but he said when it comes to charm, it’s stayed the same.
“We didn’t change that much, believe it or not,” he said. “The town is pretty much the same.”
He and wife Irene, known by her nickname Rene, said they remember when the Northern Parkway ended in Nassau County and Smithtown was filled with farms. They also still call Commack “Comac” as many longtime residents do, the original spelling and pronunciation of the neighboring hamlet.
Girvan has marched in the Kings Park parade before with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, but this year will be special, he said. He and his wife said friends and family are coming from all over to see him lead the parade, including Texas, Maryland and Florida, and many will also walk with him. A good friend from San Antonio recently came up to surprise him for the Grand Marshal Ball that was held back in January.
“The Girvan family feels very good about it, and it will be in our hearts forever this day,” Girvan said.
Johnston said this year the parade will feature more than 20 bands, 15 of which will be bagpipes, as well as more than 10 fire departments and several local businesses.
The Kings Park 10th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off at noon Saturday, March 7, rain or shine. It begins at the corner of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Road, continues down Main Street and turns onto Church Street and ends down Old Dock Road at William T. Rogers Middle School.
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.
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.
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 https://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.”
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.
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.
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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