The Bronx St. Patrick’s Day Parade will posthumously honor 16 individuals whose contributions to their community and Irish-American culture should not be forgotten.
The parade committee has released the names of 16 individuals who are honorary grand marshals for the 2011 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which kicks off at noon on Sunday, March 13 at the corner of East Tremont Avenue and Lafayette Avenue, running to Harding Avenue. Before the parade kicks off, there will be a mass at St. Benedict Church and breakfast for parade participants sponsored by Jim McQuade of Schuyler Hill Funeral Home at Father Albert Hall.
Joining this year’s two grand marshals, Patrick Devine and Mary Holt Moore, and honored clergy Sr. Christine Hennessay, in spirit will be the 16 honorary grand marshals. Families and friends of Gerald Baumann Sr., James Boyle, Nora Browne, Joann Duffy Collins, William Donovan, James Hooks, Joanne Jackson, John “Jack” Kelly, Mary Sullivan Koester, Frank McSherry, Anna Mullins, Briget O’Farrell, Joseph O’Grady, Gerard Shadwick, Michael Tierney, and John Walker will celebrate their lives and legacies with thousands of spectators at the parade.
According to parade organizer Sheila Haney, there will be a special marching section behind the grand marshals and honored clergy for the families of the honorary grand marshals, they will be remembered at the parade mass, and there will be a special section in the parade’s journal with biographical information on each honorary grand marshal.
“We have made it a tradition every single year to have the grand marshals, as well as the honorary grand marshals, who are friends and neighbors who we have lost,” Haney said.
“We just want to take a day to pay honor to their memory.”
Remembering all 16 honorary grand marshals is something that some of the families members said was a very special honor for their loved ones. Margie Hooks, the wife of honorary grand marshal James Hooks, said her late husband, who passed away in 2010, would have been honored.
“He was very proud of his Irish heritage,” said Margie Hooks. “In fact he, my son, and a couple of cousins all will sport the same tattoo of a shamrock with the colors of an American flag.”
James Hooks, or “Hooks” as he was better known to his friends in Edgewater Park, was a fixture at Alfie’s Place, working behind the bar for many years when revelers would come in during and after the parade.
He was know to patrons of the Dewey Avenue tavern as a “master mixologist” behind the bar. A combat veteran who was wounded in Vietnam in 1968, Hooks grew up on Dean Avenue and raised a family in Edgewater Park.
For Tom Browne, whose mother Nora Browne is one of the grand marshals, he feels like the parade committee’s gesture is a fitting tribute to his mom’s memory. Browne immigrated from County Cork in Ireland in 1943, settling with her husband and four boys in Silver Beach in 1959.
“It is an honor, and she would have been ecstatic about it,” Browne said.