Sporting a green, orange and white sash over his dress blues, 21-year-old Andrew Kuroski and four other active-duty military soldiers served as grand marshals marching in the 10th annual Hampton Bays St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday.
Kuroski, who joined the Army in 2010 and returned from serving nine months in Zabul, Afghanistan, just six months ago, said he was surprised, but honored to be a grand marshal.
“It’s an honor to represent the Army,” said Kuroksi, of East Quogue. “A bunch of my buddies are still overseas serving, and I’m so lucky to be able to honor them and other active-duty soldiers.”
Kuroski marched alongside Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Connor Cantwell, 19, of Hampton Bays; Marine Sgt. Pablo Abad, 25, of Hampton Bays; Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Ordonez, 34, of Selden; and Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Darla George, 35, of Westhampton Beach.
Under blue skies and a light breeze, the parade marched from Hampton Bays Elementary School and headed west on Montauk Highway.
Army veteran John Ryan, parade chairman and former president of the Hampton Bays Hibernians, said it was the first time the parade had five grand marshals.
“I asked them to be grand marshals to thank them for their sacrifices,” said Ryan, 52, of East Quogue. “We wouldn’t have such freedoms as to hold a St. Patrick’s Day parade without their service.”
It’s now a tradition for parade founder Dan Heaney to wave flags and march alongside his 11-year-old granddaughter, Rebecca Heaney.
“We created this parade years ago because we needed something for Hampton Bays,” said Heaney, 65. “My family was originally from County Cork, Ireland, so this keeps our Irish heritage alive and strong. What a great day.”