The saying goes, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know.
Within the Irish community, one of the busiest people—if not the busiest—is longtime Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade director Michael J. Bradley, Jr. Bradley has directed the parade since 2002, a time of incredible growth and no small amount of tightly scripted organization, largely dictated by the needs of the television stations that have broadcast the parade.
His son, Colin, is directing the parade this year, but Bradley remains a diligent behind-the-scenes player.
As if coordinating the parade was not enough, Bradley oversees M.J. Bradley Company, Inc., a firm founded by his father Mickey and mother Bernadette, that installs epoxy flooring in venues from research and educational institutions all the way up to stadiums. For most people, that would be plenty. A first-generation student of Penn State—class of 1978—he remains deeply involved in his alma mater, having served on Penn State Brandywine’s advisory board for well about 30 years. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more devoted Nittany Lion than Michael Bradley. (Almost 20 family members, from his sons to nephews and nieces, are or have been Penn State students.)
He also has assumed a leadership position in efforts to keep open and improve the quality of Delaware County’s Catholic schools at a time when an archdiocesan blue ribbon panel was recommending the closure of over 40 parish schools, including five from Delco. He has also served on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Executive Board of Elementary Education, along with the Cardinal O’Hara High School board.
Here’s our last and final batch of photos from the 2019 Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, shot by freelance photographer Gwyneth MacArthur.
Freelance photographer Gwyneth MacArthur also joined us Sunday at the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Here’s a batch of images she captured along the parade route. Thanks to Gwyneth!
It’s been a few years since we covered the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I missed it. Aside from an opportunity to snag a lot of really fun photos, it’s also old home week, where I ran into old friends I might not have seen for a while. Missed them, too.
Without further ado … here are all the pictures I took. Hope you see yourself somewhere in the mix. Click on the arrows above.
Philadelphia Saint Patrick’s Day Observance Association Proudly Announces Congratulations to 2019 Philadelphia Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Award Winners:
Hon. James H.J. Tate Award
(Founded 1980, this was named the Enright Award Prior to 1986)
Sponsored by: Mike Driscoll
Outstanding Organization that Exemplifies the Spirit of the Parade
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia / Neumann University
Msgr. Thomas J. Rilley Award (Founded 1980)
Outstanding Fraternal Organization
Sponsored by: AOH Division 39 Msgr. Thomas J. Rilley
Joseph Fleming Memorial Brigade
Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal Sean McMenamin is on a tight schedule these days. Who knew being grand marshal came with the responsibility for so many appearances and speeches?
It will all come to a head Sunday when he is driven down Market Street to the reviewing stand at the Constitution Center, accepting well-deserved accolades along the way.
But as grateful as Sean McMenamin is to be honored, he is quick to point out that he alone is not the one being singled out for praise, but it the generation of Irish emigrants from the late 1950s and early 1960s that he represents.
In speeches yesterday before Philadelphia City Council, a salute to Irish patriots outside City Hall and, last night, as he proudly accepted the sash of grand marshal at a dinner at Sugar House Casino held in his honor, he remembered his roots—and those of so many of his friends.
On a recent Saturday morning, a brightly lighted, cavernous truck bay in the back of Cavan Construction in Aston is a hive of activity. About a half dozen men are clustered around an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, sawing, drilling and hammering, carefully crafting the Cavan Society float for the 2019 Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In this, they are able assisted by a curious boxer named Diesel. That is, if “help” means leaving paw prints all over freshly green-painted wooden planks.
We can tell you the theme. It’s the same as this year’s parade theme: “St. Patrick, Unite Us.” Beyond that, until Sunday, the day of the parade, it’s a big secret. Some of the wooden shapes hinted at the beginnings of a bridge, and there was a small house-shaped structure at the tail end. But that’s all you’re getting from us.
And it’s all you’re likely to get from Sean Smith, company project manager and superintendent, as well as the chief overseer of the float construction project.
Sean McMenamin, who came to the United States from a small town just outside of Westport, County Mayo, in January 1966, describes Irish immigrants of the time as “survivors.” They came here when immigration laws were far more lax than they are now, and they did what they needed to do to make a life for themselves.
He recalled those days Wednesday night at a VIP Party at the Constitution Center—one in which he was honored as this year’s grand marshal of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade.
And he remembered a steady flow of Irish immigrants in those days. “Every week, there’d be somebody new coming,” he said, addressing a large, enthusiastic crowd that included members of the parade’s Ring of Honor.