By Ray O’Hanlon
Labor leader Edward J. Malloy is the Grand Marshal for the 2001 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Malloy, who heads the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, was feted Monday at the headquarters of Mutual of America in Manhattan.
In his acceptance speech, Malloy, who is also a vice president of the New York State AFL/CIO, said that it was the dream of every Irish American to be grand marshal of the oldest and biggest parade in the world.
Malloy, who is married with two daughters and seven grandchildren, said that he was accepting the honor with "a feeling of great humility."
"It will be the best parade ever. Every hard hat will be cheering," said Malloy, who also paid tribute to grand marshals of recent years including the late Cardinal John O’Connor who had "fought for the rights and dignity of working people."
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In presenting Malloy to a room full of parade officers, press and specially invited guests, parade chairman John Dunleavy said that in keeping with recent years, the grand marshal had been chosen in conjunction with a special theme. For 2001, he said, the theme would be the labor movement, an area that was synonymous with the Irish American community.
Dunleavy said that the 240th parade, which would be held on Saturday, March 17, would be dedicated to the "Fighting 69th" regiment of the New York State National Guard which would be marking its 150th anniversary.
The parade would also be dedicated, as it was last year, to those who had served and died in the 1950-53 Korean War.
In addition to naming Malloy as grand marshal, the parade committee announced that the 2001 St. Patrick’s Medal would be presented to former congressman Tom Manton and that the green whistle signaling the start of the parade up Fifth Avenue would be blown by NYPD First Deputy Commissioner, Joseph Dunne.
Dunne said that it would be a great honor to start the parade. He was proud of his Irish heritage which ran deep as his grandparents on both sides were Irish immigrants.
Manton too pointed to his Irish heritage and said that it was "very humbling" to be awarded a medal previously given to the late Cardinal O’Connor and former grand marshal and Mutual of America Chairman, Bill Flynn.
Flynn, introduced by Parade committee executive secretary Jim Barker, as head of the St. Patrick’s Day Corporation "that runs the parade," paid tribute to Barker and Dunleavy saying that their leadership role in running the parade had been incredible.
"I stand in amazement at what they have accomplished," Flynn said.
An aspect of that accomplishment has been a broadening of media coverage of the annual march. This has included television coverage by the New York affiliate of NBC and the inclusion of the parade line of march in the New York Post newspaper.
Before presenting the grand marshal and the other honorees, Mr. Barker revealed that the Post had committed itself to carrying the line of march through 2005.
In apparently addressing some of the criticism directed at the parade committee in recent times, Barker read from a letter to the committee from Post publisher and editor-in-chief, Ken Chandler.
In the letter, Chandler stated that the daily valued its relationship with the committee which at no time had asked for, or received, any financial incentive in return for the Post being allowed its special coverage of the parade.
Meanwhile, Joe Jamison of the Irish American Labor Coalition, praised the new grand marshal’s dedication to the labor movement and the quest for peace in Ireland.
"He is a big supporter of the Irish American Labor Coalition’s work," Jamison said.