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St. James Chamber of Commerce

Temperatures were low but spirits were high at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. James on Saturday, March 11.

Residents from across both shores headed to Lake Avenue this weekend to eat, drink and be merry. The hamlet’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade featured floats, the local Irish step dance team, kids from the Smithtown Bulldogs youth football league and leprechauns galore.

Kicking off the parade was Grand Marshal Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R), as he sported a bright green hat leading other elected officials, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), right center, and State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-Saint James), below right.

While many parade participants were Smithtown-based, the event also welcomed fire departments from Northport, Stony Brook and Babylon.

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, front, in the 2022 St. James parade along with Vincent Puleo, former town clerk. Photo by Rita J. Egan

After leading the town for five years, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) will head up the St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday, March 11.

Supervisor Ed Wehrheim was announced the St. James parade grand marshal at the chamber’s Winter Gala. Photo by Rich Balter

Wehrheim, a native of Kings Park, said when he heard the news, he was humbled and honored. The town supervisor added he is mostly of German and English descent.

“As I told the chamber for that particular day, I will be all Irish,” he said.

The honor will be his first time serving as a parade grand marshal.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “It’s great for the community when the chambers put the parades and events on. I’m looking forward to it.

Kathy Weber, president of the St. James Chamber of Commerce, said the board chose Wehrheim as grand marshal for all his work for the hamlet, including being instrumental in making possible Celebrate Park, which opened in 2022.

“From the roads to the park and all the revitalization, he’s really there for St. James,” Weber said. “We’re so grateful.”

She added it’s apparent how Wehrheim cares about the St. James community.

“It wasn’t even a question as to who should be this year’s grand marshal,” Weber said.

Wehrheim said the town is proud of what has been done in St. James.

“It has resulted in a huge success for the community and the business community,” he said. “To be the grand marshal and go down the newly renovated Lake Avenue will be a great honor.”

The supervisor said after COVID-19 protocols prevented or limited community gatherings for a couple of years, returning to parades, festivals, concerts and more was welcomed. 

The St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade was canceled in 2020 a few days before it was due to take place. In 2021 a car parade was held, and the 2022 parade was postponed until a few weeks later due to inclement weather on its original scheduled date. According to Weber, it was the first time there was a rain date.

She said this year planning and participation have returned to pre-COVID conditions.

“There are a lot of people and a lot of excitement,” she said, adding that several children will be participating as princes and princesses this year. A resident turning Sweet 16 will also be in the parade handing out candy after her grandmother arranged to make her wish to participate come true.

“It’s a great day to celebrate the supervisor and celebrate St. James,” Weber said. “The feeling in St. James, it’s such a close community feeling.”

The St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on Saturday, March 11. The event kicks off on the corner of Woodlawn and Lake avenues at 1 p.m. and continues to the train station.

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The St. James Chamber of Commerce hosted a community Christmas Tree Lighting celebration at Deepwells Farm County Park.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, it had to be moved to Sunday due to rain.

The event included pictures with Santa Claus, crafts, performances, hot cocoa and snacks. Among the performers were the Dogwood Fourth Grade Chorus and the Smithtown High School East Whisperettes kickline team.

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Signs of spring could be found all over the Deepwells Farm parking field in St. James April 9.

Hundreds of families lined up to hunt for some eggs at the St. James Chamber of Commerce Spring Egg Hunt. The event returned for the first time after not being held the past two years due to COVID-19.

Children 1 to 10 years old with baskets in hand dashed around the field to collect a few eggs and then had the chance to win special prizes.

The Easter Bunny was also on hand to visit with families and to take pictures.

'Toy Story 4'

The St. James Chamber of Commerce kicks off its Summer Outdoor Movie Nights series with a free screening of ‘Toy Story 4’ on the grounds of Deepwells Farm County Park, Route 25A and Moriches Road, St. James on Wednesday, July 14 at dusk (approximately 7:45 p.m.) The fourth and last installment of the Toy Story series, the film directly follows Toy Story 3, as Sheriff WoodyBuzz Lightyear, and the rest get used to living with Bonnie, who creates a new toy named Forky, from recycled materials from school. As they go on a road trip with Bonnie, Woody is also reunited with Bo Peep, and must decide where his loyalties lie. Rated G. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Rain date is July 21.

The next oudoor movie is scheduled for Aug. 11 – movie TBA.

For more information, call 631-584-8510.

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A scene from the 2019 St. James St. Patrick's Day Parade. Photo by Rita J. Egan

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.

Mario Mattera

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.

Kerry Reilly DeJesus

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
Lake Avenue.

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.

A scene from the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick's Day in 2019. This year's parade has been postponed due to coronavirus. Photo by Kyle Barr

Local St. Patrick’s Day Parades have been postponed due to ongoing concerns of the spread of coronavirus. Some of these local events have not had to cancel a parade in their multi-decade lifetimes.

The reports of cancellations came through after a March 12 Suffolk County press conference, where county Executive Steve Bellone (D) and county health commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said it would be safer for all parades taking place on the 14th and 15th to postpone their events.

The New York City parade, which often draws thousands upon thousands in crowds, also announced March 11 it would postpone its parade. It was the first time in more than 250 years that the parade has been cancelled.

The Friends of St. Patrick, the nonprofit organization that puts on the Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade, announced it would be postponing the 70th annual 3-mile parade, which was originally scheduled for March 15. 

“We want to thank all of our sponsors and participants for their continuing support of the parade,” the Friends posted to Facebook. “While the Friends of St. Patrick are naturally disappointed to have to make this decision, it is the right decision. We know how important the event is to our community and the decision was not made lightly. We will be back bigger and better than ever at our next parade and will celebrate twice as much next time.”

James McElhone, the treasurer of the Friends of St. Patrick, said the organization would be holding a meeting the night of March 12 to discuss if the date would be pushed to later or if it would be safer to wait until next year.

“This is the first time in 70 years we’ve had to do this,” McElhone said. “Then again for New York City, it’s the first time in over 200 years.

On Thursday morning, the St. James Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade also announced it would postpone “for a later date” over concerns of exposure. 

Despite the calls for postponement, the 30th annual Ronkonkoma St, Patrick’s Day Parade is, as of writing, still planned for March 22 along Hawkins Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma.

Suffolk officials said there are currently 16 confirmed cases within the county, with 49 others in mandatory quarantine and 76 others who are be in monitored in “cautionary quarantine,” having recently travelled.

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It was a great day for the Irish March 16 as thousands lined Lake Avenue to enjoy the 35th annual St. James St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The sun was shining as firefighters, drum and pipe bands, Scouts, legislators and more marched through St. James to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This year Denise Davis, vice president of the St. James Chamber of Commerce, led the parade as grand marshal.

Check back in the next few days for more photos from the parade.

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Hundreds of children and their families turned out to participate in the St. James Chamber of Commerce’s annual Easter egg hunt at Deepwell Farms. The race was on to collect multi-colored plastic eggs filled with candy from the lawn. Afterwards, children and their families had the opportunity to take pictures with the Easter Bunny.