For two decades, Eamon Fitzgerald has helped coordinate the Bethpage St. Patrick’s Day parade.
But this year, the 75-year-old Ireland native will get to show off his Gaelic roots as grand marshal of the parade.
“I’m honored and I’m looking forward to it,” Fitzgerald said. “Even after this year I’ll continue to be involved in running this wonderful parade.”
Born and raised in Dublin, he immigrated to the United States in 1965 seeking adventure. Since then, he has lived in Boston, Toronto and Australia. Then in 1974, he visited his sister in Bethpage and has stayed for the last 25 years.
“Bethpage is a lovely community,” Fitzgerald said. “Everybody’s nice here and the people are good people.”
Extremely involved in charity and PTA events at St. Martin of Tours Catholic School when their two children were students there, Fitzgerald and his wife remain active with the school’s fundraisers even though their kids are now grown.
Fitzgerald is also a member of the St. Martin of Tours Church and the Inisfada Golf Society, a club for Irishmen. “Inisfada” is Gaelic for “Long Island.”
Fitzgerald will be leading the parade of six bands, Irish dance groups and bagpipe players with his wife, children and friends. The 21st annual parade kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Martin of Tours Church on Central Avenue in Bethpage. The parade ends with a reception at the church.
“I love the parade and I think it’s great to be leading it this year,” Fitzgerald said.
This is not the first time Fitzgerald has marched in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. He’s marched several times in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“I’m 100 percent Irish so these events are very important to me,” he said.
Fitzgerald was selected as grand marshal by the committee for his contributions to the area, as well as his Irish background.
“Eamon’s duty as grand marshal is to be the good Irishman that he is,” said John Joyce, president of the Bethpage parade committee and longtime friend of Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald’s wife, Marie, 63, is very excited to march with her husband and children in the parade.
“The fact that someone from Ireland is going to be grand marshal,” she said, “it’s a great honor.”
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