By CHRIS EBERHART
The sound of bagpipes and rhythmic clapping bounced off the walls in J.C. Fogarty’s on Kraft Avenue in Bronxville as the Eastchester Irish American Social Club named the grand marshals and honoree for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
On Feb. 8 during the club’s sash presentation, Eastchester residents and co-founders of the St. Patrick’s Day parade Tom Huvane, vice president of Wealth Management at UBS and one of the “Wall Street Top 50” in 2013, according to Irish America Magazine; and Jim Hendry, a Nassau County homicide detective, were tapped to lead the annual town parade as grand marshals.
Fr. Eric Raaser, pastor of the Immaculate Conception parish in Tuckahoe, will be this year’s honoree.
“I’m thrilled that the club and the town and everyone asked us to be grand marshal,” Hendry, whose wife, Anne, was grand marshal in 2012, said. “I’m very proud of how we started this tradition.”
Talking about what the grand marshal’s responsibilities are, Huvane said, “The main job of grand marshal is to be chief cheerleader; to be the one that helps spread the word about our club, our organization, our town and to represent the Eastchester Irish American Social Club.”
The Eastchester Irish Amer-ican Social Club’s spokesman Stephen Huvane said the club was looking to do something special for the 10th anniversary of the parade and that special something was naming the parade’s two co-founders as grand marshals.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those two gentlemen,” Stephen Huvane said in reference to his cousin Tom Huvane and Hendry. “They started the parade, and they were driven to make it work…And this is our 10th year, so we thought it was fitting to honor them.”
Stephen Huvane said the grand marshals and the honoree were chosen by a 16-member committee within the East-chester Irish American Social Club. He said the club had to push the three men to accept the honors after their initial reactions were to turn down the opportunity and stay out of the spotlight.
“Both [grand marshals], being modest and humble men, they didn’t want the recognition,” Stephen Huvane said. “But we said, there’s no way you’re turning this down. This is year No. 10, and we’re going strong.”
Raaser, whose initial reaction was the same as Tom Huvane and Hendry’s, said, “My first reaction was I wanted to turn it down,” he said. “But I’m really honored. This isn’t really about me, it’s about the parish and the people of Eastchester, so I accepted it on their behalf.”
J.C. Fogarty’s was packed with participants, including Bis-hop Gerald Walsh—who ble-ssed the sashes that will be worn by the grand marshals and honoree—and elected officials like Eastchester Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita, county Legislator Sheila Mar-cotte, Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond, Tuckahoe Trustee St-even Quigley and Eastchester Town councilmen Joe Dooley and Glen Bellitto.
“Tom [Huvane] is a gentleman, he’s a professional,” Colavita said. “And he took this parade by the reins, wrestled it down and made it fantastic, and we have proclaimed today [Feb. 8] in Eastchester to be his day.
“To Jim Hendry, he’s another good man. You find out a lot about a man coaching Little League together. We’ve been in the dugout together for a couple years with kids crying, winning, losing and you get a good revelation about someone. And he’s got a heart of gold, and he’s very deserving to have this day [Feb. 8] to be named his day in Eastchester as well.
“To Fr. Raaser, he’s a leader, he’s a gentleman and he’s done a fantastic job either on the pulpit or behind the scenes. And we worked together to get the gym, and we’ve also proclaimed today [Feb. 8] to be his day in the Town of Eastchester as well.”
This year’s parade will be held on March 16, and the route will start at Immaculate Conception Church and run north on Route 22 to the Lake Isle Country Club.