Ready to put on the green
EAST ISLIP—The annual John P. Reilly Memorial St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off this Sunday, March 4, and at the helm will be Islip resident Larry Wolff as grand marshal. “I’m very honored,” Wolff remarked. “It’s a great honor to be able to lead this parade down Main Street.”
The Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 7 in East Islip hosts the event. Parade chairman Dave Ring said Wolff was chosen to lead it because of his charitable work for the organization and for the community.
Although Wolff is predominately of German descent, there is a touch of Celtic heritage in him as well. “My great-grandmother was born in Ireland,” he said.
That lineage, and the fact that he married someone of strong Irish descent, brought him to the AOH in 1991. His wife Joan was already a member there. “I went with her to some of their affairs and I liked what I saw,” he explained. “I heard about their charity work, which was why I was interested in joining.”
Wolff grew up in Rockville Centre and Stony Brook, attended parochial school through high school and eventually earned a degree in accounting from Hofstra University. He then worked for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance until his retirement several years ago. He currently works as a school bus driver during the day. However, it’s what he does after work that’s really interesting. A self-proclaimed film buff since childhood, Wolff is now considered a venerable film historian.
“I’ve always had an interest in film, particularly in [film] comedians. I like to laugh,” he said.
His breadth of knowledge in this area has resulted in him designing 25 different PowerPoint presentations, which he brings to various schools, libraries and senior centers throughout the year. His favorite subjects to discuss are the comedy teams of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and their predecessors Laurel and Hardy. In fact, Wolff is the grand sheik (president) of the Long Island Sons of the Desert: Second Hundred Years Tent, an international Laurel and Hardy appreciation society. The group, consisting of 25-30 members, meets several times and year. “It’s a fun organization,” he noted.
In addition to his lectures, Wolff creates comedic murder-mystery plays that are shown in various venues. He writes, directs and acts in each one along with his cast of players. It seems like a lot of work, but he said the satisfaction is worth all the effort. “To hear people laugh is tremendous,” he said. “I now know how comedians like Bob Hope felt to hear someone laugh at their jokes. And if I’m able to make someone’s life happy for a couple of hours, I’m a happy guy.”
No doubt Wolff will have more than a couple of happy hours this coming weekend. He will be marching beside his aides, sons Tim and Dan. And he’ll be carrying his wife’s grandmother’s shillelagh (Irish walking stick) along the way.
“As the Irish say, ‘It’s going to be a grand day,’” he remarked with a hint of a brogue.
The parade will begin at 2 p.m. at the East Islip Library, then travel west to Irish Lane. The grandstand will be located at St. Mary’s R.C. Church. More than 30 groups, including pipe bands and service organizations, are expected to march.
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