By Pat Casey
On Saturday, March 10, White Plains will come alive with the “Wearing of the Green” as spectators, marching bands, pipers, Irish Step Dancers, twirlers, drill teams, community groups and service organizations take to Mamaroneck Avenue for the 15th Annual White Plains St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Initiated by Parade Committee Chair and Councilman John Martin back in 1997, the White Plains St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Irish Cultural Tour that follows has become renowned throughout the region as it grows larger every year, attracting participants from deep into the Hudson Valley, Long Island, Manhattan and even out of state.
This year’s parade will feature 27 bands, an all-time record, and seven floats (six of which are being built by the same New Jersey company that built the Super Bowl float), with 120 groups in total participating.
“It will be a block buster,” says Martin, who claims his green jacket is plugged in and ready to go. “The Silver Dolphins Drill Team from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is returning by popular demand,” he adds.
This year’s Grand Marshall, Father Thomas Collins, is president of Archbishop Stepinac High School. He will lead the parade with his aides Kathleen Cooney Bonistall, Dennis Doherty, Timothy Donohue, Debbie Bodnar Kennedy Flooks, Michael Henderson, and Maura Henderson Lynch.
Father Collins, who grew up in White Plains, is a 1979 graduate of Archbishop Stepinac High School and received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Iona College. He studied at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers and was ordained to the catholic priesthood in 1992. He will be celebrating his 20th anniversary this year.
In 1995 Father Collins was named to the Faculty at his alma mater. In addition to teaching and coaching the golf team, Father Collins has served as the dean of students, spearheaded a successful capital campaign in 2010, and continues to be a major fundraiser for the school. In 2011, the board of trustees named Father Tom the ninth president in the school’s 64-year history.
Father Collins continues to celebrate Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows, Resurrection Church in Rye and Holy Rosary in Hawthorne. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Archbishop Stepinac High School and the School of the Holy Child in Rye.
Father Collins and his aides, along with White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, members of the Common Council and other government officials will march with the parade to the viewing stand at City Hall on Main Street.
“It will be a great day for people of all ages,” says Martin. “There is something for everyone and plenty of room for people to enjoy the activities all along the parade route.”
Following the parade, the White Plains Irish Cultural Tour will kick into gear featuring Irish music, servings of corned beef, potatoes and cabbage, soda bread and, of course some good old Irish brew. Stops along the tour include Black Bear Saloon, Bob Hyland’s Sports Page Pub, Brazen Fox, Dunne’s Pub, Elements, Hudson Grille, Kelly’s Pub and Grill, Lazy Boy Saloon, Lazy Lounge, Porter House, Ron Black’s, Tighe’s Tavern, The Thirsty Turtle, Vintage, and Wicked Wolf Tavern.
Parade Day will begin with 9 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 920 Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. The parade will begin promptly at 12 noon on Mamaroneck Avenue and proceed to Main Street. The long-range forecast, according to weather.com is for clear skies and moderate temperatures.