2001-03-03 / Columnists

On The Beach

On The Beach

This column is dedicated to Wave Publisher Leon Locke whose untimely passing has rocked our world. It is almost eerily ironic that for a man whose life was dedicated to publishing and reporting the news of a community has now, with his passing, become the front page news; and how we of the "Wave family" have the excruciating task of reporting his passing. Although I really didn't know Leon well, I was given by him the opportunity to write this column for his newspaper...and to him, I am grateful.

I didn't know him well. He was like that. He had this unique and endearing way of warming and worming his way into you. I found him at first intimidating; and then, always most genuine. He spoke his mind and
you knew where you stood. Everybody in the "Wave family" had a nickname. Mine was "the blond bombshell" or when I'd walk into the office, he'd announce my arrival, "Everybody, the Ditz is here!" Or he'd say I was Dorothy Dunne in training!" He was a great teaser.

I'm very grateful to Joanie George for hosting an occasion recently where I had an intimate chance to sit with Leon and be in his social company. We talked about the QE2, his favorite cruise liner, destinations we'd traveled, The Simpsons, his favorite tv show; and of course, antique cars, especially Chryslers, a passion we shared. We also spoke about this year's parade. There are not too many people who know that for many years it was Leon Locke who got out there early on parade day morning, and in his own quiet way he would single-handedly paint the green line up the Boulevard along the parade route. It was just his way of adding something and being an unassuming part of it all.

Although he hadn't been well, he joked recently that we could take skinny John McLoughlin, douse him in green paint and roll him up the Boulevard. That was Leon. He was a terrific teaser. So, I dedicate this column and this year's parade to Leon Locke and "the Green Line".

Which brings us here to where we are today. With all its pomp and
pageantry, the Queens County Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Cultural
Committee will bring the parade back up to Beach 129 Street and Newport Avenue where we step off for out 26th year.

The parade began as a gleam in those blue eyes of Parade Founder, James Conway Sullivan. It was while sitting in the old Blarney Castle one parade season 26 years ago that he first conceived the notion that the Irish people in Rockaway deserved their own parade in honor of Saint Patrick. That for many it was often times too difficult to make it into the city for the Fifth Avenue parade. So, with a couple of makeshift banners, a couple of marching bands, and a small cadre of supporters, and most probably with his lovely mother and beautiful sister in tow, he began what has become a most remarkable legacy: The second largest parade in New York State!

This year we will boast 87 marching units and a distinguished roster of
honorees: Grand Marshals Michael McGuire and Cathy Mitchell-Miceli; Honorable Grand Marshals Barbara J. Morris and Robert Spata; and Deputy Grand Marshals Mary Alice Lane, Mary Dever, John McLoughlin, Mary Rooney, Michale Shea, Liz Sulik, P.O. Hector Tello, Roselle Sampol, Sean Kirby, Ellen Connelly, and Father Casey. Come out, enjoy, and celebrate them!

Congratulations to Chairman Michael Benn, the committee, and Line of March Co-Chairs, Tom Touhey and Kathryn Kash.

The Beautiful Palm Garden was host to a hugely successful benefit for the parade last Sunday afternoon. It was a special treat to hear all my favorite ditties generously sung by John Baxter. We also thank the culinary talents of Mary Alice Lane, Allison Lane, Bernadette Braun, and Robin Waters for the delicious buffet.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 21, will host a dance, Friday
evening, March 9, at Saint Rose of Lima auditorium. The benefit will honor Lena McManus (Cavan) and Patrick Nee (Mayo). Music will be performed by The Brose Walsh Show Band. Tickets are $30 per person, which includes a hot corned beef and cabbage buffet, beer, soda, coffee, tea, and soda bread. The event starts at 8 p.m. Tickets may be obtained from either Mike or Elizabeth Heneghan, or Mike McCarthy.

This past week also marked the passing of a very dear friend of mine and of many, Gene (Genius) Trainor. He was a special man, a personal friend, and he will be missed.

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