Ann Hinman McMahon will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 20th Annual “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will be held on Saturday, March 16th, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. Ann, who is just shy of 80 years old, was born on McCamley Street and attended Holy Family School and Our Lady of Victory High School. She met her late husband, Tom McMahon, a Saint Monica’s boy, at the bowling alley at the corner of Seneca and Babcock. She lived on Harvey Street for five years and then purchased the home at 27 Bolton, which is still in the family today. Ann became involved in the Valley in 1977 serving on the Board of Directors until being recruited to lead the Senior Citizen Program, joining the VCA staff in 1982. Annie volunteered at various fundraisers including Lenten fish fries, Rally in the Valley, Mothers Day plant sale, St. Patrick’s Day Parade days, and Senior Card Parties. She recalled an early Senior Card Party when another volunteer and former Board Member – the late Bill Leonard – had to pull the supplies in a sleigh into the hall due to the blizzard conditions. Attempts to raise much needed dollars for the agency were simple and profits were small but Annie was always there to help out and do her part. She moved from Bolton Place and left her sons David and Paul there to hold down the fort. After an eighteen year stint at Marine Drive, Ann recently moved into the new Holy Family Apartments, where she resides today with her son Kevin. Ann is the mother of nine children: Colleen, Paul, Danny, Barbara, Nancy, David, Kathy, Maureen, and Kevin.
Also, the parade was dedicated to three special individuals...
Jerry Butler served the community in many capacities. She was very involved in the 1960’s and 1970’s at St. Stephens Parish with her late husband Bill and co-chaired the gala that was held in the Statler Ballroom to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the parish. Jerry joined the Valley Board of Directors in 1979 and served for 34 years, leading the agency as President for 14 years. Over the years, Jerry planned special events, organized programs, lobbied politicians, advocated on behalf of senior citizens, used her connections to get people jobs, even did the laundry at the Center, but above all she kept everyone laughing. She worked nearly every day at the Center with Monday being her long day – tending to the Seniors during the day, taking a short break for her Manhattan, and then staying until Bingo was over at 10pm. Jerry was our greeter – the smiling face to meet you when you came through the Center’s front doors. She was a great ambassador for the VCA. She has four children – Joanne, Judith, William, and Michael.
Frank Pezzimenti also was an active parishioner at St. Stephens Church. Frank volunteered as an usher at Mass, as a Bingo worker, as a Boy Scout Troop Leader, and as an organizer for the famous Lawn Fete’s. In 1978 Frank joined the Valley Board and soon after became the Chair for the Fundraising Committee. He held that position for thirty-two years before poor health and failing sight forced him to resign. Frank initiated the Rally in the Valley, which ran for twenty years and then transitioned into the Buffalo River Fest. In addition, Frank ran the annual Night at the Races, Meat Raffles, the Santa Raffle, and of course his beloved Monday night Bingo. He was committed to his church, his community, and his family which includes his wife Dolores and his six children – Tony, Frank, Dianne, Chrissy, Dominic, and Nick.
The third honoree for which the parade is being dedicated to is Sharon Boulanger Syracuse. Sharon served on the committee that founded the “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade. A small group of friends, including Sharon, gathered in Leahy’s Bar to discuss the possibility of starting a parade that retraced some of the path of the original 1913 parade route. The year was 1994 and the parade had only 25 contingents. Today the parade has grown to well over 100 contingents and is recognized regionally. Sharon loved her Irish heritage and was proud to be the daughter of Joe and Angie Boulanger, proprietors of Boulanger’s Bar, which was at South Park and Chicago Street. Her dad Joe served as Grand Marshal of the “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1995. Sharon helped in the family business and was a friend, confidant, or counselor to all who frequented the bar. She attended St. Brigid’s School and Our Lady of Victory High School and lived for most of her life in the Old First Ward. A devoted mother, she is survived by three children – Anthony, Ronnie, and Angela – and the apple of her eye – her grandson Ronnie.
About the Parade
The 20th Annual “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick off at 12 Noon on March 16th, 2013, and wind through the streets of the historic Buffalo River Community including South Park Avenue, Smith Street, Elk Street, Hamburg Street, and O’Connell Avenue.
Over 100 marching units participated this year, making the “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade one of the largest parades in Western New York!! Marching contingents included marching bands, clowns, community floats, social clubs, classic cars, Irish dancers, family clans, sports groups, fire and police departments, and much more!!
Viewing of the parade is available along South Park Avenue (between Hamburg Street and Smith Street), Smith Street (between South Park Avenue and Elk Street), Elk Street (between Smith Street and South Park Avenue), Hamburg Street (between South Park Avenue and O’Connell Avenue), and O’Connell Avenue (between Hamburg Street and Louisiana Street).
Immediately following the parade is a traditional grand Irish “Hooley” featured live music and entertainment as well as plenty of food and drink.
St. Patrick's Day Parade...
How It All Began:
Peg Overdorf founded the Old Neighborhood St. Patrick's Day Parade in 1994, a celebration that not only has become a central event in the neighborhood, but also has become the second largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in Western New York.
The parade retraces the original 1913 parade route and focuses on fun, in an entertaining way, the tradition and nostalgia associated with the area. Irish immigrants marched around the Valley and the Ward, the first neighborhoods they settled in Buffalo, in celebration of their heritage and patron saint St. Patrick. Eventually the parade was moved to Main Street and then to Delaware Avenue, its current location.
Ms. Overdorf saw an opportunity to reconnect the neighborhood with its Irish roots by re-instituting the parade. "I grew up in a household where my parents put a lot of emphasis on our Irish heritage. It was always a huge part of our lives. St. Patrick's Day was special! It brought everyone in the family, and everyone in the neighborhood, together. That's what I wanted to recreate with the parade."
The parade started out small, with a little more than twenty marching units participating. Now the parade boasts more than fifty marching units, just about half as many as the downtown parade. The marching contingents represent a broad spectrum of participants including Irish step-dancers, floats, family marching units, marching bands, and local sports mascots. The jobs that the Irish have traditionally held, such as policemen, firemen, and politicians, are well represented in the parade. The Police Emerald Society leads things off, a traditional position that they held in the original parade, with the Fire Emerald Society leading off the second division.
Unions, which have always been an important part of Irish heritage, are also represented, most poignantly by the Scoopers Local 109. "The Scoopers" were the guys hauling the grain out of the boats that came in on the Buffalo River. "They made Buffalo the grain-milling capital of the world," remarked Overdorf.
Perhaps the most striking difference between the two parades though, is the sense of community that the parade promotes. The togetherness reaches not only into the surrounding area, but the entire Western New York region.
What Makes The Parade So Special?
People come from all over for the parade, calling weeks in advance to get information, remarked Overdorf. So what's the appeal?? The downtown parade is just like any other parade, but with an Irish theme. Our parade is more personal. People can identify and connect more. They can imagine what it was like at the turn of the century, their ancestors marching down the same streets, celebrating in the same way. The Old Neighborhood Parade has even come to be known as the "Other Parade."
The Old Neighborhood Parade is special in many ways. For one, Irish flags, embroidered with family names and clans, adorn the parade route. Accounts of the original parade describe the parade route as being spectacularly decorated.
"We wanted to incorporate as much of the original parade as possible. It's an awesome sight when the sun is shining, and the flags are blowing in the wind, it transforms the neighborhood," stated Overdorf.
The Grand Marshal also plays a huge role in the parade. The Grand Marshal is selected by the Parade Committee, a group of neighborhood residents and business owners who plan and assist with parade preparations. The nominee must meet certain requirements such as being from Irish descent and their contributions to the community.
We view the Grand Marshal as somewhat of a lifetime achievement award, someone who has quietly, but directly, influenced, helped, and devoted their life to the Old Neighborhood. Our Grand Marshals have been instrumental in preserving the neighborhood that they love so much, expressed Ms. Overdorf.
In 2012, the 19th anniversary of the parade, Ms. Overdorf saw more participants than ever and, as always, a unique celebration of Western New York's Irish heritage. Reflecting on the parade, Ms. Overdorf said "I just keep thinking back to my mother and father and the importance they placed on our Irish heritage. They would be happy with the parade back in the Old Neighborhood, a real community celebration that everyone can enjoy."
Grand Marshal List by Year:
2013 Ann McMahon
2012 Mary Ellen Kearns Sumbrum
2011 George David O'Donnell III
2010 Margaret "Peggy" Szczygiel
2009 John Scanlon
2008 Gene McCarthy
2007 Charlotte McGuire Misuraca
2006 Bertha "Bert" Hyde
2005 Virginia “Ginny” Decker
2004 Elizabeth “Bootsie” Yuskiw
2003 Mike “Ozzie” Overdorf
2002 Mike Fitzpatrick
2001 Doris Bouquard
2000 Bill Leonard
1999 Jack & Betty McGuire
1998 Dan Higgins
1997 Don “Bughead” Smith
1996 Geraldine Butler
1995 Joe Boulanger
1994 Jim “Boss” Marren