For the second year in a row, St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Montauk have been cancelled because of COVID. As we approach one of the most important days on the Montauk calendar, a photograph from the “Before Times” makes looking backwards a thoughtful journey.
Herb Herbert donated this picture of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade from 1992, the year he was declared Montauk’s 30th Grand Marshal. During the first official parade in 1963, it was Mike Egan who was honored as Grand Marshal. A top-hatted Egan strutting down Main Street appears in Al Holden’s Pictorial History of Montauk, first published in 1976.
Al Holden’s publications were fun to read. They arrived chock-a-block with information. Events and people from the past, as well as people in the present – individuals you might encounter at the post office or at the bank, five minutes later – made an appearance in Holden’s books and pamphlets. His eight Montauk Almanacs, published in alternate years and already 30 to 40 years old, have become an excellent source for research on Montauk during the 1970s and 80s.
Herb Herbert and the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day parade were the focus of Al Holden’s last Montauk Almanac, No. VIII, from 1992. Holden was a huge fan of Herb’s Market, and described its history as a butcher shop begun by George Sears in 1923. Its continued success was based on the efforts of owners Herb Herbert and his wife Chris, who had made a name for themselves in Montauk: “There isn’t a morning every day of the week when you can’t see a steady stream of workers walking out with their coffee and heros.”
Herb Herbert was “completely taken by surprise when told he would be the 30th Grand Marshal for the Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade. [He] accepted this honor with the modesty he always displays. His remarks at the Grand Marshal’s Luncheon held at Gurney’s Inn were classical and portrayed the person he is… Once again, the Friends of Erin picked a winner!”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. We look forward to celebrating in 2022, masks off with no social distancing, just like parade-goers did in this photograph from 1992.