During the month of March, the Hamptons streets are filled with green and gold. Amagansett, Hampton Bays, Montauk and Westhampton Beach celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with spectacular parades led by remarkable grand marshals.
How green does your blood run?
“My grandmother was from Ireland and married my grandfather, who was from Italy. Can you believe that? What a combination that was!”—Am-O’Gansett Grand Marshal Hugh King, speaking for himself and his co-marshal and wife Loretta Orion
“My mother Julia O’Meara’s family hails from Tipperary, a rural county in Ireland’s Munster province.”—Hampton Bays Grand Marshal Stephen Lemanski (Editor’s note: The Montauk Grand Marshal’s surname is RYAN)
“My mother was a twelfth-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!’”—Westhampton Beach Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian
How it feels to be grand marshal…
“It means that people recognize some of the contributions that you’ve made to your hometown, and the nice thing about this is that they honor you while you’re still here, instead of after you’re gone.
“I grew up in Amagansett, so Loretta and I have been a part of this community for awhile, but she’s from away, Burlington. We started our life together at the Amagansett Square. There was a restaurant there in 1979 called the Royale Fish, and that’s where Loretta and I met.”—Am-O’Gansett Grand Marshal Hugh King, speaking for himself and his co-marshal and wife Loretta Orion
“It was a total surprise. They announced it at a Man of the Year ball for the Ancient Order of Hibernians in November. It’s an end-of-the-year gathering to decide the Man of the Year and Officer of the Year. Usually it’s someone who’s very involved in both organizations [Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 11 and Hampton Bays Hibernians].” I’ve been involved in the planning of the parade for the last 11 years, only marched for the past three years, since I became President of AOH Division 11. Before that, I was always busy ‘working the pit.’”—Hampton Bays Grand Marshal Stephen Lemanski
“I started with the parades in 1980 or so. My buddy and I snuck a float in the parade! It was a dune buggy and we put seven surfboards on top of it and called ourselves ‘The Geek Surf Club.’ We snuck in at the very end of the parade, and then did it a year later. Then the Friends of Erin said, ‘Why don’t you just sign up?’ They said, ‘you idiots, it’s free!’”—Montauk Grand Marshal Gordon Ryan (a former Mr. Amagansett)
“I chose this year’s parade theme, ‘the Dawg Days of Summer’ at the suggestion of my daughter Mara. 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 kick-off to summer!
I’m not related to any past grand marshals, but I’m the second Armenian, after the late Arma “Ham” Andon, in 2002. I’ve invited my four brothers and two sisters, we’ll see who shows up. I also invited my buddies from Lehigh University.
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.”—Westhampton Beach Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian
On life the other 11 months of the year…
“I’m the town crier, so I go to the town board meetings and talk about local history each time.
“Loretta has been the landscape gardener at Home Sweet Home Museum (14 James Lane, East Hampton). That’s where I work. It’s a museum dedicated to the memory of John Howard Payne, who wrote the words to the song ‘Home Sweet Home’ even though he never set foot in the place. There’s a huge garden around there that Loretta took care of. I’m like the director and Loretta has worked at the gardens around the outside of the house.
“And Loretta’s book has just been published by the East Hampton Library—It Were As Well to Please The Devil as Anger Him: Witchcraft in the Founding Days of East Hampton. It’s about the Goody Garlick witchcraft case that took place in East Hampton in 1657.
“The other project is really just trying to get as much local history out there. We’re trying to find somebody to come behind us. That would be a project that I’d love to find out if we can start training people to start learning about the town where they grew up or where they live. There’s a movement, but it has to be kept up by the people behind us. You can’t be working three jobs and then say, ‘well now I’m going to study local history.’ People are hustling out here, because it costs so much to live. You don’t have extra time to read the history of East Hampton, but just do a little bit at a time.”—Am-O’Gansett Grand Marshal Hugh King, speaking for himself and his co-marshal and wife Loretta Orion
Regarding AOH’s many charitable efforts: “We do a lot of fundraising. Our focus is on the poor and needy.”—Hampton Bays Grand Marshal Stephen Lemanski
“I opened up my law practice in 1983. I do real estate closings, criminal cases and evictions. I got married in 1983 to Dianne. We had three daughters born in the same room in Southampton Hospital. Robin, my oldest, lives in Dallas, and raises cheetahs. Loralee lives in New York City and works on Wall Street. The youngest was Tess, who got cancer and died in 2001.”—Montauk Grand Marshal Gordon Ryan
“As president of the Kiwanis of Greater Westhampton, I work to realize their motto, ‘Serving the Children of the World.’ As Vice-Commodore of the Westhampton Yacht Squadron, I volunteer my boat to facilitate sailing activities and racing for children and adults with clubs as far away as Hempstead Bay.”—Westhampton Beach Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian
There’s no place like home in the Hamptons…
“I try to tell everybody I’m not from the Hamptons. I’m from Amagansett. There are people who live in Springs and Montauk, and we’re all different in so many ways, especially our history. That’s another thing I’ve tried to do is delineate each of our communities so we’re not lumped into that upscale, fashionable, trendy and unaffordable ‘Hamptons’ moniker. They used the term ‘the Hamptons’ in the 1880s and 1890s in the paper, but I think it was because they didn’t want to write out Bridgehampton, Westhampton, Southampton, East Hampton.
“Because the parade goes down Amagansett’s Main Street where I can remember all the stores that were there when I was growing up, I think makes it special too. I grew up in the ’50s, so there’s not one place left, except the Amagansett Library. It’s the only place that’s still there. The post office has been moved. Everything else has completely changed.”—Am-O’Gansett Grand Marshal Hugh King, speaking for himself and his co-marshal and wife Loretta Orion
“There is a huge Irish community from Hampton Bays to Montauk. I love the heritage we share, the history and the camaraderie!”—Hampton Bays Grand Marshal Stephen Lemanski
“[Dealing with daughter Tess’ illness] was a huge event because the town took over for us. The local attorneys took over our business. The [people of] Amagansett took over everything for us. They’d help the kids, if we couldn’t make it home in time…they took Tess for rides in squad cars and fire trucks. The town saved us, really. They said, ‘we’re going to have someone to pick up your mail.’ The town donated money. That was a tremendous event in my life, the way the town came together.
“I love it year-round. Winters are great. People from away don’t understand how great it is during the winter. I drove the town snowplow for five years. What I like is that nobody’s in town but your friends. My wife and I go biking all winter long at night—down at Lazy Point it’s pretty quiet. I was the volunteer attorney for the youth court for several years. It was sanctioned by New York State and handled real cases.
“People talk about a sense of place. This area is great. [People] are concerned with the environment; beneath all the glitter it’s a small town and everyone looks after each other.”—Montauk Grand Marshal Gordon Ryan
“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. 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.”—Westhampton Beach Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian
Eating and drinking like an Irishman…
“There’s a big hill over here in Amagansett on somebody’s private property, and we all used to go sleigh riding. When Loretta and I first met it was really beautiful snow, and we went sleigh riding. It was so cold that we had to go to O’Malley’s and have Irish coffees.”—Am-O’Gansett Grand Marshal Hugh King, speaking for himself and his co-marshal and wife Loretta Orion
“My wife, Elizabeth Reilly, cooks a great lamb shepherd’s pie, and I definitely enjoy a pint of Guinness or a dram of Jameson Irish Whiskey.”—Hampton Bays Grand Marshal Stephen Lemanski
“I like it all.”—Westhampton Beach Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian
Style, substance and shillelaghs…
“I might bring my cane. I’m going to wear my cape and town crier hat, and Loretta has a lot of green beads.”—Am-O’Gansett Grand Marshal Hugh King, speaking for himself and his co-marshal and wife Loretta Orion
“My father in-law’s Irish cap, along with an off-white, cable-knit Aran Islands sweater owned by the father of my college roommate. I’m working from the top down.”—Hampton Bays Grand Marshal Stephen Lemanski
“A tux.”—Montauk Grand Marshal Gordon Ryan
“A top hat and tux and I’ll be carrying the shillelagh!”—Westhampton Beach Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian
Check out our Guide to 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parades on the East End, as well as our full pieces on Am-O’Gansett Grand Marshals Hugh King and Loretta Orion and Westhampton Beach Grand Marshal Aram Terchunian. Check back for our full pieces on Hampton Bays Grand Marshal Stephen Lemanski and Montauk Grand Marshal Gordon Ryan.