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Volunteer firefighter leads St. James St. Patrick's Day Parade

Parade grand marshal Thomas Donohue waves to the

Parade grand marshal Thomas Donohue waves to the crowd at the 29th Annual St. James St. Patrick's Day Parade. (March 16, 2013) (Credit: Ursula Moore)

St. James volunteer firefighter and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey civil engineer Thomas Donohue has had more than one life experience he considers amazing.

They include being part of the team that physically brought the 14,000-pound bow tie column recovered at Tower One of the World Trade Center to the St. James 9/11 Memorial in 2011; and the birth of his sons, George, 8, and Matthew, 5.

Donohue admitted that serving as the grand marshal of the 29th Annual St. James St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday ranks right up there.

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“It’s definitely an honor,” said Donohue, a 41-year-old St. James resident, who was honored for his volunteer work in the area, including 24 years with the fire department. “There were a lot of great people before me that were grand marshals . . . I am just very happy to be here with my wife Theresa and my sons.”

The parade, hosted by the St. James Chamber of Commerce, entertained 5,000 revelers, according to organizers. The parade kicked off Saturday afternoon at Woodlawn Avenue, and the route traveled along Lake Avenue, ending at Railroad Avenue.

The parade’s lineup included pipe and marching bands, dance groups, floats, fire trucks and antique cars. The event also featured four parade princes and three princesses.

Ten-year-old parade princess Jasmine Keenan, of St. James, loved every minute of being in the parade, especially wearing her tiara.

“The parade is exciting for me because I get to ride in the car and wave to everybody,” said Keenan.

She attended the parade with her mother, Kim Keenan, and their 6-year-old poodle Jellybean, who fittingly, had his hair dyed green for the event.

“I have been bringing Jasmine to this parade since she was a baby. We love it. The parade is always exciting for us, from tossing the beads to marching,” said Kim Keenan.

Four-year-old parade prince Jack Moylan, of St. James, shared his favorite part of being in this year’s parade. “I like throwing candy at people. It’s fun,” he said.

Parade director Kerry Maher of St. James was thrilled to see the thousands of smiling faces on people wearing green.

“We started this parade to have the community come together and celebrate their Irish heritage,” said Maher, who is in her ninth year running the parade. "I love being here with my friends and family. People come from all over for this parade. It’s a great parade.”

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