The organizers of the famous Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade bestowed the 2023 parade honorees with their white, orange and green sashes on Saturday at the annual Dinner Dance on Feb. 18.
Each year, the parade committee honors a number of true-blue Irish Bay Ridgeites for their good deeds by appointing them parade marshals. Before the main event, the marshals are celebrated with a formal celebration and dinner.
This year, the leader of the pack, the Grand Marshal, is Matthew J. D’Emic, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge and lifelong Bay Ridge resident.
D’Emic, who grew up in the nabe with his nine siblings, has served on multiple mayoral task forces and has worked to address criminal justice reform, gender equity in the courts, and domestic violence. This year, he was awarded the William Brennan Award for Outstanding Jurist from the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
All the while, D’Emic has honored his roots — serving on the board at Xaverian High School, his alma mater, as well as Mercy Home and the Cathedral Club of Brooklyn.
D’Emic will be joined by ten deputy marshals — including his brother, Patrick, a nearly 30-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department. Each deputy has a long familial history in Bay Ridge, as well as a lengthy record of serving their community – they volunteer at local organizations, hold fundraising drives for important causes, and operate beloved small businesses.
Deputy Marshal Megin Reilly — a founding member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 22 — is far from the first member of her family to take part in the historic St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Her father, Gene, was a co-founder of the parade — and her siblings have all served as marshals over the years while their mother rode in one of the iconic classic cars each year until she passed away.
“On this next Parade Day Megin will proudly march with the deputies and Grand Marshal, the Hon. Matthew J. D’Emic, fondly thinking of her dad and all that his legacy left behind,” Reilly wrote on the parade’s website.
The marshals will be joined on the parade route by the “Irish Family of the Year” — the large and deep-rooted Moran family, who have been Bay Ridge residents for generations — and the “Honorary Irishman of the Year,” Robert “Cosmic” Puglia.
Puglia is a first-generation Italian-American with a deep love for Irish heritage and culture who spent years as a New York City police officer in Brownsville and Bay Ridge and took up bartending in his retirement. While not Irish by blood, Puglia has become a mainstay in the nabe.
Decked out in their Irish flag sashes and face paint, the honorees will march through Bay Ridge together at the March 26 parade.
Though always a joyous occasion, this year’s parade will have a slightly somber tone — it is dedicated to everyone lost to COVID-19 and to the frontline workers who got the city through the worst of the pandemic. The parade returned in-person last year after two years of COVID-related cancellations.