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St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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.

By Julianne Mosher

On Sunday, March 8, hundreds of people lined the streets in Huntington Village for the 86th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Led by this year’s grand marshal, the Honorable Judge Jerry Asher, the Ancient Order of the Hibernians kicked off the parade starting on New York Avenue and heading down Main Street. 

The streets were lined with green, with parade watchers celebrating the festivities outside village restaurants and bars. Music played from nearby pipe bands and the marching bands from Huntington and Walt Whitman high schools. The local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops marched alongside a group of dog lovers, whose pups were dressed all in green. 

Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) waved to the crowd as he walked by along with other elected officials. Members of the Order of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia marched in old-fashioned costumes, as they fired shots to the excited crowd, and Irish step dancers performed in the middle of the street.

Along with the performers and politicians, the local fire and police departments marched along, showing off old-fashioned fire trucks and waving to the kids who watched in awe on the sidelines. 

The air was chilly but the sun was bright as hundreds turned out for Kings Park’s 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade March 7.

Jim Girvan, this year’s grand marshal, lead the way with dozens of his family members and friends marching in the parade.

More than 20 bands, 15 of which were bagpipes, as well as more than 10 fire departments and several local businesses made their way down the route which starts 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.

Huntington’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 8 with the Honorable W. Gerard Asher leading the way as grand marshal. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Julianne Mosher

Decades after moving to Huntington with his family at 13, the Honorable W. Gerard Asher will lead the 86th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Main Street.

Huntington’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 8 with the Honorable W. Gerard Asher, above, leading the way as grand marshal.

“Huntington is a great community and it has been for many, many years,” he said.

Known locally as Jerry, the 78-year-old has been a proactive citizen in the town for more than six decades. A graduate of Huntington High School’s class of 1959, Asher was president of the senior class, captain of the championship football team and team captain of the basketball team — hobbies that still interest him today. 

“I like to attend the local high school sporting games,” he said. “I want to show my support because I played when I was a student there.”

Asher married his high school sweetheart, Sylvia, and they have been together for 56 years. He graduated from Princeton University in 1963, Cornell Law School in 1966 and then served two years in the U.S. Army as captain and commander of a Hawk missile battery in Korea.

When Asher came back to Long Island in 1969, he began practicing law with an emphasis in real estate, surrogate law, litigation and sports law for 36 years in Huntington.

“Huntington has great people,” he said. “All of my family still lives here. and I’ve made so many friends throughout the years.”

In 2004, Asher was elected to district court, where he tried numerous criminal matters and was the drug court judge for Suffolk County for two years. In 2010, he was elected justice of the state Supreme Court — a title he held up until he resigned in 2017 at age 76.

“I like to keep working,” he laughed. “I’m semiretired, but I like the idea of having something to do everyday.”

Asher said that throughout his time volunteering and working within Huntington, he was constantly told he should become grand marshal, but wasn’t able to as a sitting judge. 

Now it’s his time to shine. 

“I’m honored to have this bestowed onto me,” he said. “I’m moved by the whole thing, and I’m excited to be the Grand Marshal for the 86th Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

Greg Kennedy, his good friend and past president of Division IV of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, said that Asher was an immediate thought when the past grand marshals meet every year to decide who the next one will be.

“He’s a pillar to the community,” Kennedy said. “He’s someone that you would go to
for advice.”

While holding dozens of honors, titles and participating in plenty of philanthropy, Kennedy said that this is Asher’s time to represent Division IV. 

“It’s his time to lead us proudly down Main Street on March 8,” he said.

The Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin at 2 p.m. in Huntington Village March 8, rain or shine. The parade runs along Route 110 beginning slightly north of Broadway and makes a left on Route 25A to end by St. Patrick’s R.C. Church.

Jim Girvan, this year’s grand marshal, in his Kings Park home Photo by Rita J. Egan

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.

A scene from the 2019 Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“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, Girvan  and 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.

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The walls of East Wind in Wading River were bathed in green as the Friends of St. Patrick hosted their annual Luck of the Irish Casino Night March 8 at the East Wind hotel in Wading River. 

Attendees paid a $75 ticket and were given $200 in fake money, which they then used to play an assortment of games including black jack, Texas Hold’em, craps and slot machines. Money won could be used to buy raffle tickets for an assortment of prizes.

Attending was the recently named grand marshal, John McNamara; along with the recently named queen, Jazmine Lang, a Rocky Point High School junior; and her lady-in-waiting, Emily Hampson, a sophomore at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

The Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade is set for March 17 starting at 1 p.m. beginning at Harrison Avenue in Miller Place. Roads will start to close at 12 p.m.

Residents in Huntington were dressed in green, contrasting well with the gray skies above. Despite a drizzling rain, thousands still stepped out dressed in St. Patrick’s Day flair to enjoy a day of Irish pride during the 85th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 10.

This year’s grand marshal was Timothy Rossiter, 72, a member of the Huntington division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and president of the Rossiter Financial Group. 

The march featured several drum and pipe bands, along with local groups including local Boy Scout troops, VFWs, New York State Nurses Association and many others.

All photos by David Ackerman

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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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St. James residents showed off their Irish pride by going green this Saturday.

The St. James Chamber of Commerce held its 34th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade March 17 featuring bagpipers, floats and plenty of green. The parade stepped off from the corner of Woodlawn and Lake avenues and progressed to the gazebo at St. James Elementary School.

The grand marshal of this year’s parade was St. James resident Michael Tully. The Tully side of the family hails from Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland, and the Carney side of his family is from Galway. He was a health and physical education teacher for Brentwood school district before becoming a school administrator from 1970 to 2002.

Tullly is known for his involvement in his community — as a coach for the Smithtown/St. James Little League baseball team, coach of Smithtown Kickers soccer team, former secretary of the Smithtown Booster Club and former advancement chairman and merit badge counselor Boy Scouts of America Troop 301, according to the chamber. He is also a volunteer at Northport VA Medical Center and the veterans home in Stony Brook.