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John Dunleavy, chairman of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade committee. Photo by: Dominic Totino

John Dunleavy, NY Parade chairman, is not for turning on gays marching

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John Dunleavy, chairman of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade committee. Photo by: Dominic Totino

“When you put all those together he’s had a remarkable 20 years, especially when you look at how strong and well-thought-of the parade is today. And John’s the most important person. Leadership at the top makes the difference for good or for ill, and John has been a terrific leader.”

As for the possibility of Dunleavy retiring from the chairman’s seat Lahey said “John hasn’t announced any definitive retirement plans that I’m aware of. I’ve been his vice-chairman now for 10 years or so, and he was the vice-chairman for Frankie Beirne before him. The tradition has been – and it is a tradition, not an absolute succession – that when the chairman does step down the vice-chairman takes over.

“But,” he noted, “we do have to be elected every two years by the affiliated organizations. In 2011, John may have been thinking about [stepping down], but in any event we both stood for re-election, we both were elected, and we’re scheduled to be chairman and vice-chairman respectively for at least this parade and the 2015 parade. What happens after 2015 we’ll see, though I must say I’m very busy with Quinnipiac University and John, who fortunately is retired, is able to devote an enormous amount of time to running the parade. I’m happy to serve as vice-chairman and if he does decide to retire some time I’ll be happy to continue to support the parade in whatever way the affiliated organizations would like me to.”

Whether Dunleavy leads the parade for two more years or for 10, at least one thing is likely to remain the same. As he said in 2011, "I'm not uncontroversial, but I stand by my principles. . . . Controversy is good for the parade. It brings attention to it.”

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