GREENWICH, Conn. — Cathy Lavaty has fond memories of watching the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Greenwich with her next-door neighbor. This year, it will be different: She will be making memories of her time marching in the parade.
The Greenwich Hibernian Association recently named Lavaty as the grand marshal of the parade, which came as a surprise to the lifelong resident of Greenwich.
“It stunned me, and it took a few minutes to register,” Lavaty said. Now, she has settled into her new role, fielding calls from old friends who have heard the news.
“Right now I’ve been hearing from people I haven’t heard from in a good while,” Lavaty said. “(It’s) been kind of fun getting nice messages.”
Lavaty is heavily involved in the Greenwich community. She serves as both as a trustee and as chair of the St. Mary of Greenwich social concerns committee.
Now retired, Lavaty’s 38-year career at NBC spanned stints working on big shows such as “Nightly News,” “Today” and “Dateline.” Her latest position — as grand marshal — is a "great honor" and a nod to her Irish ancestors.
While the parade is known for its lively bands and large display of emergency vehicles, Lavaty said the focus of the parade is on Irish heritage.
“We’re doing it for our ancestors that came to this country and made it possible for us to live here,” she said.
Her Irish roots go back to her grandparents, George and Catherine Kelly, who emigrated from County Cork in Ireland in the late 1800s. They moved to Greenwich, where George was the first custodian of Hamilton Avenue School.
Lavaty, whose family home was on Oakridge Street, said the parade is a warm reminder of her past.
“I think it’s a little part of years gone by,” she said. “It’s something that hasn’t changed or gone away like other parts of the town that I knew all my life.”
Lavaty encourages children and parents to step away from some of the distractions of modern life and enjoy the parade, which offers something more meaningful than a television or smartphone.
“You’re part of something,” she said of the community spirit along the parade route.
Lavaty will step off with the parade March 20 at 2 p.m. For more information on the parade, visit the Greenwich Hibernian’s website here .
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