Meet Montauk’s 2018 St. Patrick’s Parade Grand Marshal Kathleen Keller

Meet Montauk’s 2018 St. Patrick’s Parade Grand Marshal Kathleen Keller

Montauk’s Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade is 56 years young on Sunday, March 25, and this year it will be led by lifelong Montauk resident, Grand Marshal Kathleen Keller. Keller’s family ran the Trail’s End restaurant for generations.

RELATED: 2018 Guide to East End St. Patrick’s Day Parades

Promoted as having the second largest St. Paddy’s parade in New York State, Montauk is once again going green—really green! On Friday, March 23, noon – 3 p.m. at Behan’s Annual Grand Marshal Luncheon at the Montauk Yacht Club, Grand Marshal Keller will be introduced, roasted and presented with the parade sash, top hat and shillelagh.

On Saturday, March 24, the annual Gala Cocktail Party at Gurney’s Montauk, from 4–8 p.m., includes a buffet, open bar, live music and a pot o’ gold raffle. This is one of the main fundraising events for the annual parade.

To start the season off right, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce ladles out hot soup, for sale in commemorative parade mugs, starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 25. A variety of hot soups will be on offer, donated by Inlet Seafood, Montauk Yacht Club, Naturally Good and many other top Montauk restaurants.

Grand Marshal Keller kicks off the parade at noon, starting on Edgemere Street, proceeding to South Edison Street and entering Main Street at the east end of town. (Can’t you just hear those drums?) Marchers will pass under the watchful eye of emcee Rick White, at the reviewing stand on the village green, and finish at the end of Main Street by the IGA. Come early to secure a good vantage point!

Keller’s blood runs green. She is the third Keller-family grand marshal, following her father Gil (1969) and brother Patrick (2007). Kathleen is the granddaughter of Joseph Pugh, one of the founding fathers of the parade. She is a member of the Friends of Erin (FOE) Ladies Auxiliary. (And when you call the FOE hotline, you leave a message on a machine in her basement. Now that’s “inside.”)

Keller offers a lot of insider info on this year’s parade and Montauk traditions:

How has this parade evolved over the years?
It’s gotten bigger every year—more marching bands, bagpipes and fire departments. This year we want it to be one of the best. We have some good floats coming in, about nine bagpipe and drum and bugle corps, 15 fire departments from as far away as Dix Hills! Now kids collect beads and candy from the floats in little plastic bags.

What excites you the most about being named Grand Marshal?
Oh my God! Following in my father’s footsteps. It’s such an honor.

What’s your earliest memory of this parade?
I was 10 years old—all the excitement around my house with my father.

Do you have family members participating in this year’s parade?
Four of my siblings will march with me. And my son and nephews and a niece.  As kids in Montauk, we were always in the parade—Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts.

If you could have any Irishman—living or dead—join you in the parade, who would it be and why?
Capt. Owen Clancy. I’d really like to see him again. He was a big part of our family and a past Grand Marshal.

What would you say is the best thing about living on The End?
Oh, it has changed so much—it has gone from being a small hamlet. But the people
in Montauk are great—everybody comes together. Friends and relatives you’ve known your whole life rely on each other. It’s a great community.

What will you be wearing on the big day?
A tux, a green vest, top hat with a green rim—so just another day in the life!

What will you be doing immediately after this year’s parade?
Probably sleeping for a day to get ready to go back to work—I work in restaurants and the season’s coming on.

It’s time to make some Montauk memories this Sunday. Rain or shine, take Grand Marshal Keller’s advice and “Come and enjoy! It’s a family day—come out with your kids.”

For information visit montaukfriendsoferin.org.

Kathleen Keller at the Trail's End

Kathleen Keller at the Trail’s End, Photo: Laura Euler

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