This year’s Westhampton Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian says, “I call Westhampton Beach my hometown because, although I’ve lived all over the world, I’ve lived my whole life here. The great thing is our deep roots and how we all have respect and admiration for the community and our neighbors. All of the East End communities have that.”
The parade kicks off at Westhampton Beach Elementary School (379 Mill Road) this Sunday, March 9 at noon and continues down Main Street toward Sunset Avenue.
Terchunian is a coastal geologist and owner of First Coastal Corp., an environmental consulting and coastal construction firm has operated in Westhampton Beach for decades. It’s Terchunian’s charitable work that distinguishes him and led to his official grand marshal designation. He’s a co-founder of the Moriches Bay Project, a grass roots organization dedicated to improving local bay water quality through farming oysters. The Project also conducts educational outreach to local schools.
As president of the Kiwanis of Greater Westhampton, Terchunian works to realize their motto, “Serving the Children of the World.” In recognition of his exceptional service, he has been awarded the high honor of the George F. Hixson Fellowship. The Rotary Club of Westhampton also awarded Terchunian their highest honor, the Paul Harris Fellowship, in appreciation for his significant and tangible assistance in achieving the Rotary’s charitable goals.
As Vice-Commodore of the Westhampton Yacht Squadron, Terchunian volunteers his time and his boat to facilitate sailing activities and racing for children and adults with clubs as far away as Hempstead Bay.
What are your earliest memories of attending the Westhampton Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade?
I basically grew up on the Westhampton Beach Parade—on Church Lane, two blocks from Mill Road. As an 8-year-old in the mid-60s I was allowed to walk to the end of the street to watch the parade go by.
How did you choose this year’s parade theme, the Dawg Days of Summer?
It was suggested by my daughter. It’s in memory of my wife Lise Frielinghaus, whom we tragically lost on January 4, 2018. She was a beloved art educator in the Westhampton Schools. She had a license plate and an art studio that read Art Dawg—The Art Dawg Studio. Mara will be driving the car in the parade. And this parade is the unofficial kickoff to summer!
Will other family members march in the parade with you?
I’ve invited my four brothers and two sisters, we’ll see who shows up. I also invited my buddies from Lehigh University.
What part of Ireland does the Terchunian family come from?
My mother was a twelve-generation New Englander, my father was Armenian, born in Istanbul. We’re as green as can be—Hurricane green, because we’re from Westhampton Beach. Our school colors are green and white and we “fight green and white forever!”
How have you participated in the parade in the past?
I’ve ridden with the Moriches Bay Project close to 30 years, usually with a mermaid, as well as 10 years as a school board member.
Are you related to any past grand marshals?
No, but I’m the second Armenian, after the late Arma “Ham” Andon, in 2002.
What will you be wearing in the parade?
A top hat and tux, and I’ll be carrying the shillelagh!
What’s your favorite Irish food or drink?
I like it all.
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