Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio is praying for sunny skies Saturday, when he’ll serve as grand marshal in the 27th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. James.
Growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Vecchio went to school at St. Michael Elementary School and played with the St. St. Athanasius Parish’s fife and drum corp.
"I marched in many St. Patrick’s Day parades where it snowed and rained -- the fife holes were filled with water and snow,” Vecchio remembered. “It was pretty tough trying to play the fife. The music was getting wet and the capes we wore would be flying in the wind."
Vecchio, 81, has been Smithtown's town supervisor for 34 years – the longest stint of any supervisor in New York State.
Helene Krantz, a board member of the St. James Chamber of Commerce, said Vecchio’s nomination is long overdue.
"The man is an incredible icon,” she said. “He’s done for the community in every way possible. He’s an impeccable politician, with so much integrity. He is an amazing person."
Before his career as an elected official, Vecchio had a 20-year stint with the New York Police Department. Back then he also celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, marching in parades when John Lindsay was the city’s mayor.
"My name is Patrick, but I’m not Irish," Vecchio said, adding that he nevertheless has long ties to the Irish community. The best man at his wedding was Irish, he picked up a bevy of Irish buddies during his Irish Catholic school days, and he enjoyed a trip to Ireland last year.
The parade, Krantz said, gives the public the chance to honor a legend.
"It affords us the grand opportunity to say thank you to this man, who is a pillar of the community," she said.
Get all the information on Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade in St. James here.