Before a festive mixture of dignitaries, revelers and members of the press, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee installed Albert E. Smith as its 2013 grand marshal.
Smith, corporate executive officer at A.E. Smith Associates, expressed his excitement amid a throng of flashing cameras and raucous applause.
“It is truly an honor to lead this great parade,” said Smith – a graduate from Iona Preparatory School and Villanova University.
“I look forward to marching with all of you, and my family on March 16. And again, on another note, [my great-grandfather and former N.Y. Governor] Al Smith was dead against Prohibition, so I encourage you all to have a drink,” he laughed.
Smith sits on the boards of Provectus Pharmaceuticals; Inc. and Mutual of America. He is a senior advisor for the Kroll Bond Rating Agency and the Marwood Group.
Smith succeeds last year’s grand marshal, Francis Comerford – chief revenue officer and president of commercial operations for N.B.C.-owned television stations.
Consul General Noel Kilkenny remarked that he enjoys seeing “grand marshals coming from corporate Irish America – it’s great. It’s a true reflection of the changes that have taken place in Irish America, where over the last generation or two in particular, the Irish have moved into the boardrooms right across America.
“[Smith] is joining a great list of grand marshals who reflect so well on our country, and on our heritage, on our faith, and on our culture. He is a great choice, as indeed has been Frank Comerford, whom I’ve worked very close with the past year,” said Kilkenny.
Dr. John Lahey, vice chairman of the parade committee, echoes the sentiment.
“The combination of [Comerford and Smith] signals for me a very important trend for this parade, and that is the reemergence, really, of corporate Irish America to support this parade,” said Lahey.
As part of his title, the newly-appointed grand marshal must now maintain his charitable causes, and reinforce the bond between Ireland and America.
Smith currently retains membership in several charitable organizations, notably: the Albert E. Smith Memorial Foundation, the Center for Hope, Hackers for Hope, and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. He also serves as a trustee and a board member at Calvary Hospital and St. Vincent‘s Catholic Medical Centers, respectively.
Currently, Smith acts as chairman to the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the U.S.A. The organization fosters transatlantic relations between the two countries in an attempt to foster business, trade and investment.
Edmund Hartnett, a former police commissioner at the Yonkers Police Department, believes that “Al Smith embodies everything about the Irish American spirit.”
Committee Chairman John Dunleavy said, “He is an outstanding Irish American who has devoted a huge amount of his energy and charisma contributing to the legacy of the Irish in this great country.”
The parade, which celebrates its 252st consecutive year, takes place on Saturday, March 16, 2013. It runs along Fifth Avenue, from 44th Street to 83rd Street.
Each year, approximately 250,000 marchers and two million spectators gather for the event.
New York City hosts the longest-running and largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world.