The 16th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick off Saturday, March 14, at 2 p.m., hosted by the North Fork Chamber of Commerce and Cutchogue Fire Department..
This year’s grand marshal lives just down the street from where the parade steps off and has always enjoyed attending the annual event.
“The sound of the bagpipes lures us in,” David Gamberg, superintendent of Southold and Greenport schools, said in an interview Monday.
Joe Corso, one of the parade organizers, said that choosing Mr. Gamberg was a unanimous decision, one that came before he broke the news that he would be retiring later this year.
“Then, when we found out he was retiring, we thought it would be the perfect start of a little send-off for him,” Mr. Corso said.
Mr. Gamberg, a Cutchogue resident, has spent 34 years in education and in 2013 was named The Suffolk Times person of the year alongside then-Greenport superintendent Michael Comanda.
“I met [Mr. Gamberg] many years ago. He’d come to some of the [Chamber of Commerce] meetings. He was always trying to see how we could integrate the business community with the education system here,” Mr. Corso said. “He always seemed to be on the cutting edge of not just new technology but new systems that the education community was trying to put together.”
Mr. Gamberg said it was “quite the honor” to be leading this year’s parade. “It’s special, retiring or not, but it just makes it a little more touching. I feel very honored.”
He said he enjoys celebrating the St. Patrick’s Day holiday with his wife, Maryellen, who has dual citizenship with Ireland, and their family. Last summer, Mr. Gamberg visited Ireland for the first time, setting out from Dublin by rental car and driving clockwise around the country.
“It was the most beautiful road trip I’ve ever been on,” he said, reflecting on the trip, which brought them to visit Maryellen’s family in County Donegal. “It was very magical. The landscape was as beautiful as the people are.”
Mr. Corso said being Irish isn’t a requirement — and quipped that three Italians are in charge of planning the annual parade. Mr. Gamberg said he plans to wear his Irish sweater and cap brought back as souvenirs for the parade, which his extended family is planning on attending.
With fingers crossed for good weather, Mr. Corso said this year’s parade includes approximately 50 different groups marching and four pipe bands.
Past grand marshals include Linda Carlson and Jim Fogarty Sr. (2019), Paul Connor (2018), George Sullivan (2017) and Monsignor Joseph Staudt (2016).