Sunday’s 249th annual Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade will have plenty of Northeast ties, starting with grand marshal Sean McMenamin.
McMenamin, a native of County Mayo, Ireland, came to the United States in 1966. He served in the U.S. Army and worked for many years as an engineer at DuPont. He raised his family in Oxford Circle and has long been active with Irish Center, the Mayo Association of Philadelphia and other Irish organizations and causes.
The parade theme is St. Patrick, Unite Us.
By tradition, the parade is held on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. On years when the holiday falls on a Sunday, like this year, the parade is held a week early on March 10.
The parade will start at 11:15 a.m. at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard, and proceed east on Market Street, where the performing area will be between 5th and 6th streets.
Fox 29 will broadcast the parade from noon to 3 p.m. The parade will take place rain or shine.
The day begins with a 9:15 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, 20th and Locust streets. All who are attending the Mass and/or parade are reminded to set their clocks an hour ahead before going to bed on Saturday.
The Ring of Honor will consist of Michael Concannon, Phelim Dean, Maria Gallagher, James Hanratty, Olivia Hilpl, the Rev. Joseph Kelley, Sean McMullan, Joseph Rafter Sr. and Daniel Stevenson.
The line of march will include the singing of Danny Boy by Timmy Kelly; live Irish music; Irish dancers; Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies AOH divisions; military troops; representatives of Little Flower, Archbishop Ryan and North Catholic high schools; unions; and elected officials.
The Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums band will perform, and will be joined by five members of the San Diego Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Band.
“We’ll just blend in with them,” said Marty Walsh, a member of the San Diego contingent.
It’s a big month for Walsh, a Tacony native who graduated from St. Leo the Great Grammar School and Father Judge High School.
Walsh will be the executive grand marshal of the San Diego St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That parade, to be held March 16, is the largest St. Patrick’s parade west of the Mississippi River.
“San Diego’s is a really big parade,” he said.
Walsh was a Philadelphia firefighter for 24 years, retiring in 1999 as a captain.
Soon after, Walsh moved to suburban San Diego.
“I’ve been real active with the Irish-American community,” he said.
Walsh, married with two sons, two step-children and three grandkids, is a professor of fire technology at San Diego Miramar College. He plays drums in the Emerald Society band, which formed in 2002.
While with the Philadelphia Fire Department, he marched in the parade. He also traveled to Ireland in 2016 to perform with the Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums.
Walsh is looking forward to returning home. He always enjoyed the camaraderie of the fire department and will get to see family members.
“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get there,” he said. “I’ll see my fire department buddies and hang out at Local 22.” ••