Parade director Michael Bradley in the booth with CBS3's Kathy Orr.
We started off parade season with a great fundraiser at AOH Division 39 in Tacony. Thanks to President Ed Dougherty, who provided us hospitality at their club. The event was chaired by Joe Fox, the president of the AOH Philadelphia County Board, and Kathy Fanning, the president of the LAOH Philadelphia County Board. Music was by Frank Daly’s great band Jameson; dancers were from Chrissy Zeo Harbison’s fantastic Celtic Flame School of Irish Dance. Everyone danced, sang and had a great time while raising
money for the parade.
The next major event was a fundraiser with another great night at 2nd Street Irish Society in South Philly. Thanks to President Michael Remshard who provided us a great night at their club. The event was chaired by our newest board member John Stevenson, the founder of 2nd Street Irish Society. Music was by John McGillian’s band 5 Quid and the dancers were from Jeannine McGuire’s 2nd Street Irish Society Step Dancers. Speeches were given and I made mention of 2nd St Irish Society’s 15th anniversary and that their club has a whole wall with awards won at the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade. After what I saw at the parade, you are going to fill up more walls! Again, our goal was to mingle with our hosts and guests in a relaxed atmosphere and have a good
time while raising money for the parade.
We had a VIP Reception for our major sponsors, which was held in the Grand Lobby at CBS3 and is the highlight of the social calendar. Grand Marshal Sister James Anne Feerick IHM was introduced, gave a heartfelt speech and even danced for us. Kathy
McGee Burns introduced the Ring of Honor: Sr. Kathleen Brabson, S.S.J., Bernadette Browne, Honorable Pamela P. Dembe, Denise Foley, Liz Kerr, Eileen Lavin, Sister Christine McCann, R.S.M., and Honorable Kelly C. Wall.
We introduced the great CBS3 /CW Philly 57 team of Susan Barnett, Kathy Orr, Bob Kelly, Perry Casciato, Chris May, Jim Donovan, Dave Huddleston, Susan Schiller and Joanne Calabria. All mingled with guests and a fantastic time was had by all in attendance.
The highlight of the night was that we had the honor of presenting John Dougherty a plaque for all his years or support with the Irish community and specifically his support for the parade. There would be no parade of this magnitude without John Dougherty and
IBEW Local 98, so make sure you thank him when you see him. We also gave awards to major sponsors Sandy Muller and Marty Farrell from Muller Beverage. The music was provided by Karen Boyce McCollum, Brian Boyce and Luke Jardel and the dancers were from the McDade School of Irish Dance. The outstanding food was served by Cescaphe Caterers; I don’t think I have ever been to a wedding as elegant as this affair.
Our next fundraiser kicked of parade week on Sunday March 6 at Springfield Country Club where we had over 850 in attendance. Blackthorn provided their usual fantastic show. The dancers were from the McDade, Cara, and McHugh School of Irish Dance,
and ended with all of them performing together as one! CBS3 anchor Susan Barnett left her own son’s christening to be there! CBS3’s Bob Kelly is always there with us and a huge crowd favorite at Irish events. I invited the “The Man of a Thousand Voices” Joe
Conklin who had the crowd in stitches with his impersonations of Philly celebrities who were supposed to be at the fundraiser but couldn’t make it, notably Allen Iverson, Charlie Manuel, Cole Hammels and Andy Reid! We were joined by our Irish radio hosts Mike Concannon, Marianne McDonald, and Vince Gallagher. Special thanks to “professional volunteers” Linda Bradley, Carmel and Barney Boyce, Frances Duffy, Pat Donnelly, Tom Kearney, Kathy Metzger and especially Chris Phillips for organizing the Silent
Auction. We had an awesome time and I have already booked Springfield Country Club for Sunday March 4, 2012, for next year so save the date!
We started Thursday March 10 at City Hall for a wreath laying and tribute to the Irish patriots with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. We then proceeded on to the magnificent Mayors Reception Room for the Governor’s and Mayor’s proclamation of March as “Irish
Month.” Kathy McGee Burns introduced our Grand Marshal Sister James Anne Feerick IHM and Ring of Honor, and the dancing was provided by Rose Marie Timoney and the Timoney School of Irish Dance. Hard to believe that Sister James Anne was never
Grand Marshal before, I guess it just goes to show you how many outstanding Irish and Irish Americans we are blessed to have in our region. Mayor Nutter and Councilman Bill Green spoke and we were joined by State Reps Brendan and Kevin Boyle as they
Over at the Doubletree Hotel for the annual luncheon, Kathy McGee Burns sashed our Grand Marshal, Sister James Anne to a thundering applause. They also sashed our outstanding ring of Honor: Kathy Orr and Perry Casciato from CBS3 were in attendance and another great time was had by all in anticipation of our parade. 2010 Grand Marshal and a celebrity in his own right, Seamus Boyle, the national president of the AOH, was saluted. We were also graced by the presence of Sandy Muller from Muller Beverage, presents from Johnny Doc and local 98, and amazingly a perfect parade book with a photo of Sister James Anne on the cover. Everyone always just takes it for granted that these books show up on time and I want to acknowledge all the hard work on the parade book by Greg Skahan from Griffiths Printing and Pat Donnelly.
On Sunday March 13, the Mass was magnificent, organized by Len Armstrong and the committee. The Emerald Pipers led a procession up the aisle to start the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Rigali, Father Kevin Gallagher, Father Chris Walsh, and others too numerous to mention for fear of forgetting someone. The singing, always an Irish tradition and treat, was headlined by the St. James Alumni Choir, Soloist Karen Boyce McCollum, and National Anthem by Frank Gallagher. While the Mass was going on, George
Hollingsworth, who is retired from the City and whom I cannot do without, was in work clothes screwing down a dance floor at the performing area, while Joe Callan was helping me organize the performing area.
We had 187 groups and started the parade at 16th & JFK at 11:15 a.m. The bands were awesome, the dancers magnificent, the marchers inspiring, and the crowd never stopped cheering. Timmy Kelly started us off with his usual jaw-dropping, tear-wiping
rendition of Danny Boy, and Frank Gallagher chipped in with America the Beautiful, and the crowd’s enthusiasm never waned the whole four and one half hours. The 2011 Theme was: ST. PATRICK, BLESS OUR RELIGIOUS SISTERS WHO SERVE, INSPIRE AND EDUCATE.
We were led off this year by our friends from Philadelphia’s Finest, the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. I cannot thank enough John McNesby, president of FOP Local 5, and Harry Marnie for their hospitality and help at FOP 5 after the parade. Special thanks to
Captain Tom Helker, without his help and support, we could never be successful.
I have to give a special hello and thank you to our sisters who marched this year. The Immaculate Heart of Mary Nuns and the Sisters of Mercy nuns made all of us proud and had a ball while doing so. Sisters, thank you and I hope to see you all next year!
Kathy Orr, Susan Barnett, and Bob Kelly did another outstanding job and were ably assisted by Father Kevin Gallagher and Karen Boyce McCollum. I was honored to be asked to go into the booth and do some commentating, but to tell you the truth, it was so
hot in there and I couldn’t sit still that long, my ADD was in high gear and I left after I lost interest in the booth, and not being on the street. So I have a brand new appreciation of our commentators and the preparation and work that they do! If you would like to
see the parade, go to www.CBSPhilly.com and you can watch the entire parade, or it is on Comcast Video on Demand for free also.
My family joined up with Mike Driscoll’s Family and we rented a double-decker bus. We put the Philly Phanatic and the Penn State Nittany Lion up on top of the bus so all could see him and save him from being mobbed by the crowd. He was obviously a huge hit
and a great addition.
Our award winners and info on our awards party can be found on our Web site at www.philadelphiastpatsparade.com. We look forward to seeing all the winners, sponsors, marcher and friends at our awards party on Wednesday April 13, 2011, at
Finnigan’s Wake at 6 p.m., where we will also announce our Trip to Ireland Winner.
If you have any questions or require information, please visit our Web site. Come join the fun and get to know our board members and the CBS3 celebrities!
The next major Irish event that I am hosting is on Sunday, June 5. We will have the 13th Annual Irish Festival at Penn’s Landing with vendors, dancers, bands, entertainment and the Man and Woman of the year awards. Do not miss it, it is a great event!
Please go to the CBS3 Web site and tell them how much you appreciate their involvement in the Irish community. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the Denise Foley, a proud 2011 Ring of Honor member, and Jeff Meade for all their coverage and support not just this month, but 365 days of the year. Their photos are simply “THE BEST” I am proud to call them friends!
Special thanks go out to my wife Linda, and sons Mickey and Colin, for understanding all the time that I have been missing from their lives the last month, to president Kathy McGee Burns and 1st VP Bob Gessler, 2nd VP Chris Phillips, Secretary Mary Frances
Fogg, Treasurer Len Armstrong, all our Board Members, CBS3 President Jon Hitchcock and his staff, Mayor Nutter, Melanie Johnson, Jazelle Jones, George Hollingsworth, Joe Callan, our producer and friend Liz Naughton, and 2nd VP Chris Phillips, who ably handled all the chaos at 16th and JFK and Pat Donnelly for all her help, and to my good friend at CBS 3, without whom this parade wouldn’t make it one minute on TV, Perry Casciato. And a really big special get well quickly to Paul Phillips, I need you to get
well NOW, because I need someone to tell me how bad I screw things up now that Jim Kilgallen, Jack McNamee, & Tom Moffit are gone!
If you are reading this, and missing all this fun, why don’t you get a group to march? All you need is one key person and we’ll do the rest. Contact me at www.philadelphiastpatsparade.com!
By the end of the parade we had over 20,000 marchers strong pass through. To the six groups who did not pass through before TV coverage ended, please accept our apologies, we will make it up to you next year or in some way through this year. The last group is
just as special as the first group to me! We certainly were blessed with great weather!
The title of parade director carries a tremendous responsibility that has been placed on me, but even though it is an unbelievable amount of work, all I can think about, is what an honor it is for me to serve and honor, you and your ancestors. I am very proud to
have that responsibility, and promise to do my best at all times, for everyone in the Irish community. Don’t forget, we have 26 members on our board and they all contribute in some way this fine parade! Make sure you thank them when you see them.
On behalf of the Saint Patrick’s Day Observance Association, thanks again for a wonderful display of religion, tradition, culture, friendship, and love for all things Irish!
In Honor of St Patrick,
Michael J. Bradley Jr.
Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade Director