By Harry Keaney
At precisely 11 a.m. next Wednesday, the 238th New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade will step off from 44th Street on Fifth Avenue. The New York Police Department’s chief of patrol, John Scanlon, the son of immigrants from Mayo and Roscommon, will blow the whistle to start the event.
Having recently been promoted to chief of patrol in the New York Police Department, Scanlon will be the man in overall charge of the city’s massive police operation for the day.
First up the avenue will be the NYPD mounted police unit, the famed Irish Fighting 69th Regiment, band honor units and the United States Marine Corps Color Guard.
The grand marshal is 78-year-old Maureen O’Hara, the screen legend, who has appeared in a litany of movies, perhaps the best known to Irish and Irish Americans being "The Quiet Man" and "Miracle on 34th Street."
Although the parade starts at 11 a.m., the St. Patrick’s Day’s activities start at 8:30 a.m. with Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the chief concelebrant of which will be His Eminence John Cardinal O’Connor. Irish dignitaries, both from Ireland and the U.S., as well as O’Hara, will be among the VIPs in the cathedral.
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This year, in what has now become an annual ritual, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization is again expected to protest over its exclusion from the parade by its organizers, the ancient Order of Hibernians.
As usual, a large influx of Irish people, including an array of politicians, are expected in New York, many of them starting the day with early-morning breakfasts.
Then it will on to this year’s parade, the last of this century.