Meet grand marshal, Harry Brown
BAY SHORE—The 18th annual Bay Shore-Brightwaters St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held this Saturday, March 10, and at the helm will be Harry Brown as grand marshal. “It’s an honor that I didn’t expect,” Brown said.
The lifelong Bay Shore resident, who has been married to his wife, Teresa, for 44 years, was born at the former Dr. King’s Hospital, which had been located on Maple Avenue in the hamlet. He was one of four siblings, and fondly remembers a bustling Main Street that was the center for shopping, religious worship and community activity. The Memorial Day parade was something the family looked forward to every year.
After graduating from Bay Shore High School, Brown received his teaching degree from Cortland State College and attended graduate school at Stony Brook University. He has since worked in the vehicle manufacturing industry for 44 years and is currently the vice president of Able Weldbuilt Industries.
But, according to parade committee member Bernard Brophy, it was Brown’s work in education that led to his nomination for grand marshal. He was elected to the Bay Shore school board in 1991, during a time when the store vacancy rate on Main Street was over 45 percent. With the new board, Brown sought to strengthen the local education system and improve the community in general. He was instrumental in creating the Office of School Community Relations, as well as the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Summit Council, a driving force in the revitalization of Bay Shore.
After leaving the board of education in 2000, Brown turned his attention to reenergizing the Bay Shore High School Alumni Association. Under his leadership, the association became a not-for-profit organization that has been raising funds for student scholarships for the past 17 years. Brophy put the amount raised at over $100,000 for graduating high school seniors.
The Bay Shore High School Hall of Fame, an electronic wall display in the high school, was created in 2002. The project, which was funded entirely through Alumni Association efforts, highlights accomplished alumni and revered school district icons. A similar electronic BSHS Veteran Wall of Honor is also currently in the planning stages.
Brown is still an active member of the Summit Council, as well as a regular Greater Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce meeting attendee. He also served as a moderator for past “Meet the Candidates” nights for school board elections.
The Bay Shore chamber recognized Brown as its 2014 Distinguished Bay Shore-Brightwaters Citizen of the Year. Last year, he was also presented with a Special Centennial Citizens Award by the Bay Shore Lions Club as a “Hometown Hero” for exceptional service to the community.
Brophy described Brown as the type of person who is “always there, but doesn’t want the accolades.”
Brown joked that he is mostly non-Irish. “I have a bunch of everything,” he said, listing German, Italian and Polish ancestry. He noted a few reasons why the parade hasn’t picked an “Irish dud” for grand marshal. He has visited Ireland twice, once last summer. His grandfather on his father’s side served as the mayor of Irish Town, an enclave Brown said you would only know if you were from the area. His wife’s mother, who came to the United States from Ireland in the early 1920s, also lived with them for many years.
Brown said his three children, all of whom graduated from Bay Shore High School, consider themselves to be overwhelming Irish. His sons, Patrick and Conner, both have Celtic tattoos, and his daughter, Johanna, often visits from Connecticut to march in the parade. His five grandchildren, Gavin, Keenan, Beckett, Aidan and Kayla, also have Irish names.
The parade is this Saturday at 2 p.m. and steps off at Saxon Avenue and Montauk Hwy., extending 1.6 miles to St. Patrick’s Church.
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