In 1963, when John F. Kennedy was still alive and the President of the United States, Mike Egan was chosen as the first Grand Marshal by “the original twelve.” The original twelve is the title that was given to the twelve individuals who created the annual Montauk Friends of Erin Parade. Mike Egan was a retired New York City policeman who lived in the Shepherd’s Neck section of Montauk. East Hampton Police Chief Ed Ecker fondly remembers him as “A man who always walked around Fort Pond followed by lots of dogs.”
In 1964 Pat Kenney was chosen as the second Grand Marshal. Pat Kenney is the brother of Charles Kenney, who later became Grand Marshal in 1971. Pat Kenney is known to have “started the whole show as the main force within the original twelve” as recalled by John Behan, Grand Marshal 1979.
In 1965 it was the very distinguished Mike Quinn who merrily marched with the celebrated top hat as the Grand Marshal.
In 1966 Joe Meade, a retired fireman and another of the original twelve, wore the top hat as the Grand Marshal. It was around this time that the parade began to grow in popularity.
In 1967 Gene McGovern was the fifth Grand Marshal. He was a local fisherman and worked for the Town Highway Department. It was said that Gene “really gave it his all that day,” John Behan tells us.
Gene McCann was the 1968 Grand Marshal. John Behan described Gene McCann as “a very colorful local character and a proud retired fireman!” He also worked for the town.
The 1969 Grand Marshal was Gil Keller, whom Behan says was “a local and yet another of the original twelve.” Gil was the head of the Montauk division of the Town Highway Department.
The Grand Marshal in 1970 was Tom Dougherty, again another member of the original twelve. He was an engineer at the Montauk Manor and was the engineer/maintenance at the Montauk Downs.
In 1971 Charles Kenney, the originator of the original twelve, put on the ceremonial top hat and marched as the Montauk Friends of Erin Grand Marshal.
Pat Sweeney was the fourth consecutive member of the original twelve when he was Grand Marshal in 1972. It would be another thirteen years before another, actually the last of the original twelve, would be Grand Marshal.
Long time Tipperary Inn bartender Pat Gray was the Grand Marshal in 1973. John Behan told us that for years many of the Montauk Friends of Erin meetings were held at the Tipperary Inn. It stood to reason that eventually Pat was selected.
Marshall Prado was selected as the Grand Marshal in 1974 and was the first non-Irish Grand Marshal. “Back then it was Marshall that people called at all hours for help,” Behan tells us. “He owned the gas station and he could jump your battery, help with a tire or use his tow truck to help the locals all year round.”
In 1975, the Grand Marshal was Lester Behan, John’s father. John recalls laughing, “My dad was the thirteenth of the original twelve.”
The 1976 Grand Marshal was Toby Howe whom John Behan describes as a very “laid back, quiet guy.”
In 1977 Perry Duryea was selected as the Grand Marshal. Perry was John’s political mentor and what impressed Behan most about Duryea was the way, “Perry was always a hometown guy, a regular guy in Montauk. No matter how powerful he was in Albany, in Montauk he was himself. Many people don’t realize how hard he worked at his restaurant. Perry was a hard worker.”
In 1978 the Montauk Friends of Erin selected longtime Montauk Superintendent of Schools Bob Fisher.
Then in 1979 John Behan himself was the Montauk Friends of Erin Parade Grand Marshal. He recalls that the day of the parade was a “beautiful day, bright brilliant sun.” He would be the first son of a Grand Marshal to be a Grand Marshal.
In 1980 the local pharmacist Harvey Edelstein was selected to be the Grand Marshal. Harvey has the distinction of being, in John Behan’s words, “Our first Jewish Grand Marshal.”
The Grand Marshal in 1981 was the “Justice” Joe Duffy. East Hampton Town Judge Joe Duffy never went to law school and was never an attorney.
The first woman to be Grand Marshal was Mary Gosman in 1982. Mary is also credited with being the originator of bringing young girls from Ireland to help with the summer tourist season.
The first Italian Montauk Friends of Erin Grand Marshal was Nick Monte in 1983. John Behan affectionately referred to Nick as “Montauk’s Keeper of the Inn.”
In 1984 the Grand Marshal was Ed Ecker. John says, “Ed Ecker, who served the town as a councilman and a supervisor, was a very courageous man.” He was also another of the original twelve.
The last of the original twelve to be Grand Marshal was Bill Becker in 1985. John says, “Bill raised a lot of money over the years for the Montauk Friends of Erin. He was always sort of the hidden hand.”
The 1986 Grand Marshal, Vinny Grimes, was a popular guy in Montauk. Behan recalls fondly, “The horse show, a sort of local Montauk rodeo that Vinny put on every year, it was a guarantee you’d see someone doing something they never did before.”
The 1987 Grand Marshal was Frank Tuma Sr. He was the patriarch of the successful Tuma Real Estate. John laughingly said, “At one time or another Frank Tuma employed almost everyone in Montauk. If you needed a job, you went and sold real estate for Frank.”
The Montauk Friends of Erin Grand Marshal in 1988 was Joe Hull. Behan claims, “Joe Hull was a sturdy Montauk local who ran heavy equipment.”
The first Greek Grand Marshal was Salivar’s founder Pete Chimpoukis in 1989. John said, “Everyone loved Pete, he worked all those crazy hours.”
Behan calls the 1990 Grand Marshal Frank Borth, “The first artist to be Grand Marshal.”
1991 was a unique year for the parade according to John. After Mike Murphy, who owned a local bar, was named Grand Marshal he died of a heart attack. His wife Maureen marched for him holding his Grand Marshal Top Hat.
The 1992 Grand Marshal was Herb Herbert of “Herb’s Market” fame. John says, “Herb has since sold the market but he’s still around.”
Peg Joyce, the 1993 Grand Marshal, was selected in honor of her long time service as a teacher in the Montauk Public School. Behan said, “Peg was grand that day.”
The Montauk Friends of Erin selected Hank Zebrowski Grand Marshal in 1994. “Mr Z was the Athletic Directer at the School and everyone thought highly of him,” said Behan.
The first Filipino Grand Marshal was Dr. Gavino Mapula in 1995. He was honored according to Behan, “because Dr. Mapula was the first full time Doctor to move into the professional building and reside in Montauk full time.”
The last of the original twelve to serve as Grand Marshal was Joseph Smyth in 1996. John Behan said, “Joe was always doing good things behind the scenes.”
The 1997 Grand Marshal was Dick White Jr. The distinguished member of the Montauk Fire Department was according to John, “A firm believer in keeping Montauk, Montauk.”
Shagwong owner Jimmy Hewitt was selected to be the 1998 Montauk Friends of Erin Grand Marshal. Behan laughed and said, “Everybody considered Jimmy the Mayor of Montauk, they still do.”
Ann Duffy, the 1999 Grand Marshal, had the distinction of being the first wife of a former Grand Marshal to be selected in her own right. She was the wife of 1981 Grand Marshal Justice Joe Duffy.
In 2000 Owen Clancy was selected as the Grand Marshal. John Behan said, “Owen was actually a real Captain in the Merchant Marines.”
East Hampton Police Chief Tom Scott was the Grand Marshal in 2001. Concerning the Scott appointment Behan said, “Tom Scott was the first out of town Grand Marshal, he was from Amagansett.”
In 2002 the Montauk Friends of Erin chose local Mike Finazzo for all the work he did as a member of the Friends of Erin.
U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran as well as former New York City fireman, George Watson was chosen as 2003 Grand Marshal. John Behan said, “George still does big business at his place, The Dock.”
The owner of the East End Deck Motel at Ditch Plains, Fred Houseknecht, was elected as the 2004 Grand Marshal. John tells us, “The family still owns the motel.”
Concerning Henry Uihlein, the 2005 Grand Marshal John Behan offered up some interesting trivia when he disclosed that, “Henry used to ride his horse to the Montauk Public School. I lived across from the school so I used to watch him ride up.” Henry operates Uihlein’s Marina in Montauk Harbor.
John Behan credits 2006 Grand Marshal Suzanne Gosman with founding the Montauk Day Care Center and being extremely influential in establishing the present Montauk Library.
2007 Grand Marshall Pat Keller, the son of 1969 Grand Marshal Gil Keller and grandson of Joseph Pugh, had a unique talent. According to Behan, “Bagpipes, Pat seems to have the ability to coordinate all the bag pipe players every year.”
The 2008 Grand Marshal was Jay Liebell. John stated, “Jay is a builder who did a lot of good things to raise money for the Friends of Erin.”
The 2009 Grand Marshal was Fran Ecker, the wife of 1984 Grand Marshal Ed Ecker. She was selected for her work in establishing both the daycare and senior care services in Montauk. John told us that “Fran was always there behind the scenes when someone needed help in town... quietly, effectively she would get results.”
The 2010 Grand Marshal, Craig Tuthill, was selected after serving many years at both the Montauk Fire Department and ambulance service. Back when the parade used to end at the fire house, it was Craig who would flip the hotdogs for everyone. John Behan said of Craig, “He is a lifelong resident of Montauk who has served the community brilliantly.”
The 2011 Grand Marshal Joan Lycke, is active in getting the Montauk Playhouse completed and is Trustee at the Montauk Library. She was the Montauk Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year in 2005 and the MVA honoree in 2006. She runs the Montauk Laundromat and is as Behan said, “so active in so many Montauk things.”
The 50th Grand Marshal of the Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade was Mickey Valcich, owner and founder of both Mickey’s Carting and Mickey’s Montauk Mowing. As a thirty year volunteer of the Montauk Fire Department, and thirty year member of the Montauk Lion’s Club, Mickey knows about public service and of giving to the community behind the scenes.
The Friends selected another admirable choice to be this year’s Grand Marshal for Montauk’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade! Jack Perna, Principal and Superintendent of the Montauk Public School was honored at the 51st annual celebration. Jack is still the principal at Montauk public school today (2021)
This person represents the true spirit of the seaside community, both in their good works and commitment to making Montauk the wonderful and beautiful place to live in that it is. This year the person that led the 52nd parade was Paul Monte, a perfect choice for this esteemed honor.
Montauk resident and former Montauk School Board member Terry Watson was the grand marshal of the 53rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. She was chosen after giving a lifetime of service to the students of the Montauk School. She is wife of 2003 Grand marshal George Watson.
Montauk Friends of Erin chose Montauk’s Viking Fleet Captain Paul Forsberg as the grand marshal of the 54th annual Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday. Capt. Forsberg was a long time resident and business owner in Montauk.
The Montauk Friends of Erin chose former East Hampton Town Police Chief Eddie Ecker Jr. as this year’s Grand Marshal. Ecker is a well known member of the Montauk community, having served 31 years on the East Hampton police force, the last three as Chief, before retiring in 2013. In fact, 10 years ago, bumper stickers started showing up around town with the phrase “I know Eddie Ecker.” Yeah, he’s pretty well known in these parts. As proof of his dedication to our community, even though he’s retired, Ecker now works as an information officer for the Montauk Fire Department. And this particular Ecker is not the first to don the tri-colored sash—it runs in the family. His father Eddie Ecker Sr., a former town supervisor, was Grand Marshal in 1984; and his mother, Frances Ecker, held the honor in 2009.
This year the Montauk Friends of erin chose lifelong Montauk resident Kathleen Keller. Keller’s family ran the Trail’s End restaurant for generations. Keller’s blood runs green. She is the third Keller-family Grand Marshal, following her father Gil (1969) and brother Patrick (2007). Kathleen is the granddaughter of Joseph Pugh, one of the founding fathers of the parade. She is a member of the Friends of Erin Ladies Auxiliary as well as being a driving force with planning the line of march for the parade every year.
Gordon Ryan has been an attorney in Montauk since the mid-1970s. He was selected for his more than 30 years of contributions and service to the community.
Due to COVID-19 the Parade was cancelled for the first time ever, but the club hope to honor Charlie in 2021.
Charlie Morici Snr. 81, a retired East Hampton Town Police officer but remains an active volunteer with the Montauk Fire Department to this day. Over 50 years of continuous service; even earning fireman of the year in 1976 and being named Driver of the Year for the Ambulance Squad many times, most recently in 2017.