They say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Or is it that everyone is a Montauker on the day of the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York State? Either way, 2014 Grand Marshal Paul Monte will fit right in when he rightfully parts the Green Sea to lead the 52nd Annual Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade. And he couldn’t be more excited.
“I’m very proud and honored,” says the General Manager and CEO of Gurney’s Inn Resort Spa and Conference Center. The self-identified 100% Italian-American is preparing for the big day by eating “the only thing you can eat all week—corned beef and cabbage. Maybe some potatoes.”
The parade festivities start at 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 23, when the Montauk Chamber of Commerce begins serving hot clam chowder. Made and donated by local restaurants, the hearty soup—in which Montaukers take just as much pride as they do their parade—will be served in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade souvenir mug. The parade steps off from Edgemere Road at 11:30 a.m., turns onto Main Street, continues past the reviewing stand on the green and finishes near the IGA.
“As a seasonal community, the parade and the festivities of that weekend are a kind of rebirth for our community each year,” Monte says of the significance of the event. “It’s a time to say goodbye to winter, hello to spring and ‘welcome’ to the throngs of visitors who love Montauk as much as we do. It’s also an opportunity for our local merchants and workers to bring in some sorely needed capital after the long, slow winter months.”
Monte moved to Montauk in 1968 when he was 11 years old, and many of his favorite memories of the parade are from the various times when he participated. “Whether I was marching as a Cub Scout or Boy Scout, riding horseback or driving or riding on a float, it was always a memorable and exciting experience. I guess that type of excitement and small–town experience is what draws the 30,000 to 40,000 visitors that line our streets to watch it every year.” In recent years Monte has driven the Gurney’s float in the parade.
Appropriately, Gurney’s has a host of activities planned for the weekend. The Grand Marshal’s Luncheon will be held on Friday, March 21 from noon to 3 p.m. “I’m actually looking forward to the luncheon and roast on Friday. Maybe that makes me a masochist,” Monte says. “George Watson [owner of The Dock restaurant] in particular is completely unfiltered!”
On Saturday, Gurney’s will host the Gala Cocktail Party, with a buffet, open bar and live band. The public is invited to purchase tickets to both events. “Besides being proud that Gurney’s participates in the parade, we’re proud to be the location where much takes place on Friday and Saturday,” Monte says. “It sets the tone.”
“I congratulate and salute the Friends of Erin,” Monte says. “Without them there’d be no parade and without the parade, Montauk would be a different place.”