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Peekskill Bagpiper Ending 33-Year Run Leading NYC St. Pat’s Parade

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By Rick Pezzullo
Joe Brady

Peekskill resident and world-renowned bagpiper Joe Brady will be leading the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade for the 33rd and final time this week.

As the Regimental Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion, 69th Regiment, Brady, 66, has marched at the head of the 260-year parade alongside the Regiment Commander, but he has decided to retire from what is a physically demanding role.

“I have had the honor to lead over 800 soldiers into a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral to celebrate mass and then to march in one of the largest parades in the world — a celebration of our Irish religious, ethnic and civic values,” Brady said. “It is incredibly inspiring.”

Brady started playing the bagpipes at age seven, learning from his father. By 17, he was rated as a professional open grade bagpiper, a high achievement. The bagpipes and traditional highland dress weigh more than 40 pounds and require a lot of stamina, especially while marching. Brady will passing the torch to a 25-year-old, fellow Iona College graduate who resides in New Jersey.

“Marching with the 69th Infantry Regiment has been so special to me because of its rich military history as the most decorated Regiment in the country and its ongoing commitment to giving back to the community,” Brady said. “It was the right time and right thing to do for the Regiment to pass the baton.” Brady has earned worldwide recognition as a bagpipe competitor, judge and performer. He’s played for numerous dignitaries and gigged with the Chieftains, Wolftones, Andy Cooney and the High Kings. He played with the Commandant’s Own, at the retirement ceremony for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, an honorary member of the Fighting 69th, in Washington D.C. in September 2015.

“Joe Brady is a legend and an icon of the St. Patrick’s Day community,” said Colonel Don Makay, who served as the 69th Infantry Commander from 2016 to 2019. “It was always an honor to march alongside him and to keep the battalion in sync with his music. He is as much a part of the 69th legacy as the soldiers in uniform. Joe is a soldier at heart and we will miss his companionship during the parade and throughout the season.”

At 6:30 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, Brady will lead the soldiers out of the Lexington Avenue Armory and over to 51st Street for a special Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Following Mass, the battalion marches to 44th Street and 5th Avenue, the official start of the parade. After the parade, the Regiment will name Brady Pipe Major Emeritus.

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