2004-03-12 / Columnists

On The Beach

On The Beach With Beverly Baxter James Conway Sullivan And The Parade

With Beverly Baxter
James Conway Sullivan And The Parade

And now there is a spot.... A beautiful day, the first of the season, coupled with the warmth of the several hundred who attended, made the occasion for the street naming in honor of James Conway Sullivan most memorable. Councilman Joe Addabbo did a masterful job officiating as Master of Ceremonies. As the throng gathered they heard the thrilling sound of The County Tyrone Pipe Band. The tasteful program began with Owen Baxter who proudly sang The National Anthem, followed by the mellifluous voice of Sister Mary Beatta who sang "When New York Was Irish". Msgr. Martin Geraghty gave the Con voca tion and remarked of the importance of a street name; that it is our point of reference, our identity, and the first address we know. Msgr. also remarked how Jimmy followed the direction and example of Padraig Pearse; and that this portion of the boulevard will always identify who Jimmy was, where he lived; and that it is the route of the parade he founded.A0

Other speakers included Joseph Burns, Jimmy’s uncle, who expressed Jimmy’s exceptional qualities; but also that he was in everyway, an "everyman". I spoke of how he enhanced my life and that of countless others whom he took along with him on his "magic carpet-ride" in the parade through the streets of Rockaway. Danny Sullivan, Jimmy’s brother, spoke of the street site itself,A0 its open space and that when he walks the boardwalk and feels the sun on his face or the wind knock him over, he will think of both the warmth and powerful presence Jimmy had. Zandra Myers recalled working with Jimmy at The Claddagh Inn and that he always delivered on his promises to help the underprivileged and that it was ironic that she would one day be in a position to approve of a street name in his honor. She joked that if she could, she would rename the entire parade route in his honor, but that his name is already on it through the legacy of the parade. The Sullivan family was also comforted by the tributes made by Congress man Anthony Weiner and Assem blywoman Audrey Pheffer who ad mired Jimmy for his contributions to the Irish community.

After the blessing, the street sign was unveiled by Jimmy’s two-year-old nephew, James Sullivan III, who was lifted in the air to pull the string on top of his uncle John Murphy’s shoulders. It was a poignant moment. Owen Baxter closed the program by singing Jimmy’s favorite rebel songs: Sean South of Garry Owen and The Wild Colonial Boy. If you were unable to attend the ceremony, John Baxter will feature it on his Cable TV Show on Friday March 19 on Ch.35 at 5pm and Monday March 22 on Ch.56 at 8:30 pm..

From the Parade Route....The luck of the Irish was with us when the rain ceased for the duration of the parade! We were joined by Mayor Bloomberg; the Mayor of Limerick, Kieran O’Hanlon; the Consul General of Ireland, United States Senator Charles Schumer; NYC Council Speaker Gifford Miller; and a host of other dignitaries and elected officials, as well as thousands of spectators who lined our streets. At the Post-Parade Awards Ceremony Trophies were given out for a variety of categories: The First Place Best Pipe Band went to the Sword of Light Pipe Band. It was presented by Barbara J. Morris in memory of Mickey Carton. Second Place Best Pipe Band, presented by Ed Shevlin in memory of Kathleen Mul queen, went to the NYC Dept. of Sani tation Pipe Band. The James Conway Sullivan Spirit Award, presented by Tom Touhey, went to St. Rose of Lima School Band. The Best College Band, presented by Beverly Baxter in memory of James Conway Sullivan, went to Manhattan College. The Best Step-Dancers Award, presented by D. Brian Heffernan in memory of Betty Dermody, went to The O’Malley School of Irish Stepdancing. Best Catholic High School Band, presented by Lew Simon in memory of his mother Jennie, went to Xavarian High School. The Best Community Group Award, presented by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey and Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey, in memory of Grand Knight John Dolan, went to the Knights of Columbus. The Best Youth Group Award, presented by Grace McCloskey, in memory of her father Patrick, went to the Breezy Point Youth Group. Best Volunteer Fire Department, presented by Joan Boden in memory of her daughter Teresa McCracken, went to Broad Channel.A0

The winner of the 100 Club fifty/fifty was ticket #41. The winning ticket was picked by Christine Mure, the lovely daughter of Deputy Grand Marshal Joseph Mure. ItA0 wasA0 purchased at Sean Moogs, a Pub owned byA0 Female Grand Marshal, Angela O’Reilly, who was presented with $5000.. Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey did a superb job expediting the sale of all 100 tickets!A0A0A0A0A0A0

Taking issue...In closing this week, I must address last week’s Editorial: Parade Committee Must Get It Together. The piece states that, "the people who run the committee say that the parade must be called, "The Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade", as its charter says. A minority of the committee’s members say that the parade was renamed two years ago in honor of Parade Founder, James Conway Sullivan. In support of their position, parade officials show us the papers that incorporated the parade. In support of their position, those who want the parade named after Sullivan in perpetuity show a resolution passed unanimously at the December 10, 2001 parade committee meeting.

Indeed, the Incorporated name is in fact The Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cultural Committee. That was the name that Parade Founder and Chairman James Conway Sullivan chose under which to incorporate. It was also important to him that the name be representative of Queens County. He was also alive at the time! Where the editorial is misleading is that those who insist that a resolution was passed renaming the parade after Jimmy are not the "minority" as the resolution was pass ed unanimously! by ALL members present at that meeting. A quorum was present, making the meeting "legal". In fact, nearly all fifty "legal" members were present. The problem is that the incorporated name was never changed and the memorial name for Jimmy is legally non-binding. A memorial name, unless it is the incorporated name, will only remain in perpetuity by the members who keep it there. In other words, the name is only as good for as long as good people continue to keep it there. This is where I unyieldingly support the Sull ivan family and those who want Jimmy’s name to remain. As it continues to grow, it seems the parade has become more important than its Founder. A special resolution was made and the motion carried unanimously to rename the parade. Over the past two years, the membership has swelled to more than its fifty member cap. There are now people who never knew Jimmy who are now part of a "majority" who are against the name remaining. There are many who are appalled by the flagitious way in which many on the committee have behaved since Jimmy’s passing. "Good" people don’t behave this badly. To posthumously rename an organization for its Founder and then rescind the honor is the colossal height of bad taste and demeaning to any person of any shred of decency. The parade has become an institution and is the premier event of Rockaway. Its Founder’s memory should not be trampled upon; but rather, firmly attached to the glory that is the parade.

***Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Birthdays to: Molly Faherty, Robin Durante, and Tina McHale!

***Happy Birthday to Katrina-Marie!

***Belated Birthday wishes to Brenda Delisi-Flynn!

***See you...On The Beach!

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