PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Michael O'Hanlon's Irish eyes will be smiling Saturday in Peekskill.
The Cortlandt resident is the Grand Marshal for the 28th annual Peekskill St. Patrick's Day Parade being held Saturday.
The parade steps off at 3 p.m. near Assumption Church, makes its way down Union Avenue, then right on South Street, left on Division Street, right on Main Street and right on James Street. The reviewing stand is on the corner of James and Park Streets.
O'Hanlon received his sash, top hat and shillelagh at the annual installation dinner on Sunday, March 5 at Colonial Terrace. O'Hanlon served as a New York City Firefighter for almost 30 years.
"This means a lot to me," O'Hanlon said. "I was really surprised when I got the phone call. I'm really honored and very humbled. I had no idea I was even nominated."
O'Hanlon's parents and in-laws came to America from Ireland and O'Hanlon said he is very proud of his Irish heritage.
"We grew up in a traditional Irish household," O'Hanlon said. "Always eating very bland Irish food with everything boiled and potatoes on the table."
O'Hanlon is an accomplished traditional button accordion player. He competed in All-Ireland competitions in the 1970's and won an All-Ireland medal. He is a former member of the Garryowen Ceili band which placed first in the All-Ireland Competition. O'Hanlon has performed at many events and venues including Carnegie Hall, Guinan's and the Quiet Man Public House in Peekskill.
Keeping Irish culture and traditions alive is very important for O'Hanlon, who marches in New York City's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.
"St. Patrick was the patron saint of the Irish, and this is about celebrating our heritage," O'Hanlon said. "The Peekskill Parade does a great job of celebrating Irish heritage. I am proud to be the grand marshal and walk down the streets of Peekskill."
O'Hanlon has fond memories of being a firefighter, serving in Engine 68 Ladder 49 in The Bronx.
"It was the best thing I ever did," O'Hanlon said. "I had a great brotherhood I belonged to. We all looked after each other. It was a dangerous job, but we had a good time."
The parade is proceeded by a Mass at Assumption Church at 1:30 p.m., and brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Elks Club. The brunch will include a full buffet breakfast. Admission for adults: $12, children 5-12 years old: $5 and children under 5 years of age, free.