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Irish eyes smiling on university at famed parade
March has arrived and Quinnipiac University is preparing for its march down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
Since 1988, Quinnipiac has sent a marching unit to New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Alumni and administration, led by university President John Lahey, gather together to join the thousands of people walking the forty-two block parade route (Fifth Ave., from 44 to 86 Streets).
Students return from spring break the day before the holiday, but are not expected to attend the parade. John Morgan, director of Public Relations for Quinnipiac, says that this event is focused more toward the graduates of the university, though student participation is welcomed.
This year marks the parade’s 242nd year, and the 15th year that Quinnipiac will be participating. In 1997, President Lahey served as the parade’s Grand Marshal. Hailing from the Bronx, Lahey was proud to have been able to follow in the example of other great leaders who had held this position, including Congressman Thomas Manton and the late John Cardinal O’Connor.
Robert Bisighni, associate director of Facilities, has been one of the parade coordinators since 1988. He is thrilled with how much this event has grown, providing exposure and recognition to the university. “It has evolved to be a great event, enjoyed by everyone,” Bisighni says. “It’s a nice family activity.”
Bisighni also emphasizes the impact that President Lahey has on this event. “[Lahey] is always fully supportive, no holds barred. Whatever we need to make the people enjoy themselves, he makes sure that we have it.”
The turnout has also grown to include board of trustee members, university cabinet members, faculty, staff, alumni, alumni parents, current students and their parents. Last year, Quinnipiac received the first place award from the parade coordinators for best college or university marching unit. The trophy, which features the likeness of St. Patrick, is on display in the Facilities offices.
Students have their own ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Freshman Blair Donahue, 18, says, “I plan to spend the Sunday before with my family to partake in the annual corned beef and cabbage. Monday I plan to return to school dressed in appropriate green attire and spread the joy of my Irish heritage with history facts and old sayings.”
Even if they can’t make it to the parade, people still find ways to enjoy the day.
Parade marchers will meet by the Athletic Center at around 7:30 a.m. on March 17 for a continental breakfast. Buses then take them into Manhattan to prepare for the parade.
Following the parade, a reception will be held at the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Ave. The group will wear QU St. Patty’s sweatshirts to show spirit.
This year, as they did last year, event coordinators will be passing out American flags to the marchers to honor the victims of Sept. 11.