What — NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade
When — Friday, March 17, 11 a.m.
Where — Fifth Avenue at 44th Street
Television — WNBC, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.By Harry Keaney
The 239th New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade will step off this Friday at 11 a.m. on Fifth Avenue at 44th Street.
Deputy Chief Michael Fox of the New York Police Department will blow the whistle to signal the start of the march.
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First up the avenue will be the NYPD mounted police unit, followed by the Irish Fighting 69th Regiment, band honor units and the United States Marine Corps Color Guard.
The grand marshal is Dr. Kevin Cahill, president general of the American Irish Historical Society and a friend of and physician to the ailing Cardinal John O’Connor, of New York. Cahill was also physician to O’Connor’s predecessor, Cardinal Terence Cooke.
For the last 15 years, O’Connor, who was grand marshal of the parade in 1995, has celebrated the traditional Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on St. Patrick’s morning as well as viewing the parade afterward from the cathedral steps.
This year, because of illness, it’s uncertain if he will be able to continue that tradition or if he will be able attend an AOH dinner in the Waldorf Astoria to be presented with the parade committee’s first gold medal.
Former grand marshal William Flynn, retired chairman of Mutual of America, will also be honored at that dinner.
Last August, the cardinal had surgery to remove a brain tumor. In recent weeks, he was been experiencing increasing weakness. Most notable is his increasingly bloated appearance. Last Sunday, he did not show up for Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Parade Chairman John Dunleavy said he was sure the cardinal would like to see his friend Dr. Cahill lead the parade past the cathedral.
The cardinal’s spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, told the Echo on Tuesday that it was "uncertain if he will be up to" presiding at the Mass or reviewing the parade.
Zwilling said the cardinal would wish, first and foremost, to be at the Mass with the people, and then view the parade.
Whether that will happen this Friday, however, remains to be seen.
This year’s parade, on the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, is dedicated to Korean war veterans. "Somebody mentioned it to me and I though it was a good idea," Dunleavy said.
Although it’s expected that U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton will march in the parade, Dunleavy told the Echo on Monday afternoon that the parade committee had, as at that time, received any contact from Clinton.
Her expected opponent in the senate campaign, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, marches every year with the NYPD’s top brass.
This year, about 185 groups will take part in the parade as well as 152 bands, about a half dozen of which are out from Ireland. Among the visiting groups is the O’Neill School of Irish Dancing from County Leitrim; the St. John’s Independent Accordion Band from Portadown, Co. Down; the Castlerea Brass and Reed Band from County Roscommon, one of the oldest bands in Ireland; the Loughrana Linn Youth Band from Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, and a band from the Galicia, the Celtic area of Spain.
Coverage of the parade will be broadcast for four hours on NBC, starting at 11 a.m.