Former Riverhead Town Chief of Police, army veteran and current funeral director Joseph Grattan, is this year’s Jamesport St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal. Grattan follows in the footsteps of fellow policeman and the parade’s originator John Cuddy Sr., who first served as its grand marshal. This year’s parade was organized by his son, John Cuddy Jr., who says, “Irish eyes will be smiling on parade day!”
Have you been in the parade before?
There’s only been six. I marched in one of them, maybe two. They asked me about two or three years ago and I wasn’t really terribly interested. This year, they had people approach me from the committee. They sent an envoy! I’m very proud they did. I’ve been retired for 17 years and thought everybody forgot about me.
What’s your favorite Irish food or drink?
I would say corned beef and cabbage. My family had a routine on St. Patrick’s Day, or the weekend after, and my wife was Polish. She could cook the best corned beef, unbelievable. My wife passed away 10 years ago. She was 66 years of age. She was the Riverhead Town Clerk for several years, and she died while she was in office.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Southold and went to Southold High School.
What will you be wearing for the parade?
They had a very nice fundraiser at The Vineyards in Aquebogue and gave me a sash and a green jacket and a top hat and a shillelagh—however, I had one that my dad gave to me quite some time ago, and he said that his father had given it to him. I rather doubt that it belonged to his father, actually, because when my grandfather came from Ireland he was only four years old. He would not have had a shillelagh. I have a feeling that it’s my great-grandfather’s.
You started out as a funeral director before working in the police, right?
After high school, I went to work at the local funeral home for four years, I went to school to be a funeral director. Then I changed careers in the Riverhead Town Police Department and spent 39 years there. I got promoted to detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and the last nine years I was chief of the department. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did a lot of good things.
The Jamesport St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off on Saturday, March 30 at 1 p.m. on Washington Avenue and Main Road, then goes east to Manor Lane. Find all the details of the East End’s remaining 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parades here.