On St. Patrick’s Day, a 250-year-old tradition will end when the grand marshal of the 2011 New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade will not stroll up New York’s Fifth Avenue, but instead will be perfectly poised in a horse drawn carriage.

The best selling Irish American author, Mary Higgins Clark will be riding in style in a black vis-à-vis horse drawn carriage.  Akin to her Irish ancestors who first arrived in the U.S., Clark, 83, will embrace a traditional form of transport, as she leads the celebrations.

Instead of walking the shortened route this year – the parade will cut off at 79th Street instead of 86th Street -- the multi-million selling author suggested they use a horse and carriage as she thought it would be more appropriate.  No motorized vehicles are permitted in the parade, apart from car sponsors such as the Ford motor company.

“I said why don’t you get a horse and carriage? I thought it was appropriate with the 250th anniversary, and they liked the idea,” she told Irish Voice sister publication Irish America magazine.

“We are so excited,” Stephen Malone, executive director of the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, and the man who will be in the driving seat of the first horse and carriage to feature in the parade, told the Irish Voice.

“It’s the nicest one we have, it’s fit for a grand marshal.  It has red crushed velvet interior; I only wish it was green!  We will be decorating it with green and orange carnations.

“We are just so thrilled to be part of the event, it’s the best thing that has happened to Malone Carriages,” added Malone, who operates his company from Central Park.

In homage to the festivities, the horse leading the carriage is named Paddy.

“We bought him 11 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, so he is the perfect horse for the job”.

For Malone, being a part of the parade is very special, as he recalls watching the elaborate event through the decades.

“I remember watching my aunt, Anna McElroy, who was the first female president of the United Irish Counties Association marching in the 1989 parade, so this is a great personal privilege for me,” Malone said.

“We have been telling everyone about our involvement and we have got a fantastic reaction.” 

Clark will lead the marchers up Fifth Avenue next week for the 250th St. Patrick’s Day parade. The occasion will be televised to millions of households throughout the U.S. and a live broadcast of the parade will be available via webcast from http://NYCStPatricksParade.org.