Bob Hanley of Sound Beach at the annual Bay Shore-Brightwaters...

Bob Hanley of Sound Beach at the annual Bay Shore-Brightwaters St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday. Credit: Ian J. Stark

Bob Hanley may be from Sound Beach, but just about any St. Patrick’s Day parade is fair game for this holiday superfan who’s been a regular parade attendee for more than 20 years.

“I’ll be at the Ronkonkoma parade next, then of course the big one in Manhattan, and Montauk for sure after that,” he said while meeting and greeting people during the annual Bay Shore-Brightwaters parade last Saturday.

While not officially a marcher, Hanley walked much of the parade route while mixing it up with the crowd, stopping frequently to take photos with people. He caught their eyes with a head-to-toe shamrock-and-green suit and tie, a green hat to match and a beard dyed as green as his duds.

“When I first started, all those years ago, I just did the beard, but it just grew and grew,” he explained.

His love for the holiday is definitely part of his reasons for loving parade, and “I am three-fourths Irish,” he adds, “but it’s also the people I get to meet."

Walking in parade after parade might seem like a tough hobby, but this St. Patrick’s Day superstar said: “Yeah, I’m going to keep doing until…well, I’m just going to keep doing it. I love it.”

—  Ian J. Stark

St. Patrick's Day princess tradition rolls on

The tradition of St. Patrick’s Day parade princesses in Center Moriches continued Sunday as this year’s titleholder, Stephanie Sunderman, took the job with last year’s royalty by her side.

St. Patrick’s Day parades are led by grand marshals, but for at least a decade the hamlet of Center Moriches added a wrinkle to the tradition by giving a second title out to one female high school senior each year.

Kristin Renzetti, the 2017 princess and now a student at Suffolk County Community College, joined Sunderman for the festivities. 

All competing students must write a 500 word essay to enter, with the top writer given the princess title and a $750 scholarship.

“It’s cool being the princess," Sunderman said. "I mean, you grow up in this town and go to the parade and see the princess, and then winning the title… it’s great.”

— Ian J. Stark

Hospital CEO honored in Cutchogue

The sun was shining brightly in the North Fork last Saturday as hundreds of residents from Cutchogue and surrounding areas like Mattituck and Jamesport lined the streets for the community’s 14th annual Cutchogue St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Paul Connor, CEO of Eastern Long Island Hospital for nearly 19 years, waved to attendees on the 1-mile route into downtown Cutchogue. The Mattituck resident was chosen as this year’s grand marshal.

“I was honored,” he said. “The hospital is a big part of the North Fork and Shelter Island communities. They are good to us and in turn we are good to them.”

Connor, 66, is also a member of the North Fork Chamber of Commerce, which helps play an integral part in coordinating the event.

Connor said he was very excited to watch some of the bagpipe performances and see his 22-month old grandson, Roscoe, in the crowd pointing to all of his “favorite fire trucks.”

— Rebecca Anderson

Ground Zero hero honored in Ronkonkoma

John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, an organization that assists 9/11 first-responders with health-related or other hardships, was honored as grand marshal of last Sunday's Ronkonkoma St. Patrick's Day Parade.

“I spent five days at Ground Zero … Spent 11 weeks in the hospital with gangrene and I wound up losing half of my left foot,” Feal said. “My injury, while gruesome and horrific, pales in comparison to those that I advocate for — for those who are deathly ill or who are passed away from their 9/11 illnesses. I’m just lucky to be alive and lucky to be able to help people."

He started the foundation 14 years ago, and said that since then it has helped pass nine pieces of legislation throughout the country and donated more than $5 million toward supporting 9/11 first-responders.

— Nick Ciccone

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