Sunday’s Glen Cove St. Patrick’s Day parade will be led by a local who has seen Irish pride firsthand.
In November, the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade committee unanimously voted Ireland native Andrew Stafford as grand marshal of the city’s 23rd annual parade, which begins at 1 p.m.
Stafford, 48, served as president, vice president and marshal of Division 8 (also known as the Mike Moran Division) of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Glen Cove. He also spent the last decade spearheading the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade behind the scenes. Now he’s at the forefront.
“It’s a nice honor after all these years, especially since I’m born Irish and [that’s] where I came from,” he said.
Born in County Wexford, Ireland, Stafford first came to America when he was 25. He and his girlfriend (now-wife) Pauline moved to Locust Valley in 1988 due to their country’s looming recession. They stayed on Long Island for two years before moving to East Landsdown, Pa., where they had their first child, daughter Aisling. They returned to Locust Valley one year later. In 1996 they moved back to Ireland and had their second child, daughter Caoimhe, but returned to Locust Valley one year later.
Although he’s been in and out of Long Island, Stafford, a landscaper by trade, has still managed to make his mark with residents. Joe McDonald, Division 8 president, said Stafford’s the main reason he holds the position today.
“He’s part of the reason I chose Division 8,” the Massapequa native said. “He’s very smart, organized, you can’t find a better person.”
Stafford gave McDonald a heads-up at last year’s parade that he was retiring from organizing the event.
“I told him he was going to be the grand marshal this year,” McDonald said, laughing. “Either that, or you’re running it again, I told him.”
In his role as the parade chairman, the Stafford family’s phone would ring nonstop this time of year. With him as the grand marshal the phone isn’t much quieter.
Said Pauline Stafford, “I call myself the parade widow.”
Find all the information about Sunday's Glen Cove St. Patrick's Day parade here.