It's official: Jack Perna has been named the 51st grand marshal of the Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Joseph Bloecker, the acting president of the organization that throws Montauk's biggest bash, which draws 30,000 people, said, "It was a vote by unanimous decision."
Perna, the Montauk School principal and superintendent, also grew up in the hamlet.
So, why Perna for the 2013 parade?
"Why not? Friends of Erin charity work is aimed at Montauk youth. Who has done more for Montauk kids than Jack Perna?" Bloecker said. "He is the salt of the earth of Montauk."
Perna started out as a teacher at the Montauk School, then became its principal and its superintendent. "How many administrators on Long Island can say they've spent their whole career in one school?" Bloecker said.
By email on Friday morning, Perna said he was humbled to be recognized twice — First by the Montauk Historical Society, which asked that he "light" the Lighthouse at Christmas, and now the Montauk Friends of Erin. "I am truly honored and blessed to live and work in this community," he said.
This year, the parade is being held on St. Patrick's Day (it's usually held on the Sunday after), March 17, kicking off at 11:30 a.m.
Several fundraisers and community events are held leading up to the parade.
The 10th annual Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner is set for The Point Bar & Grill in Montauk on March 9, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person, $10 for children. Todd the Guitar Guy will perform.
Perna will be honored at the grand marshal luncheon, and also presented with his parade sash, top hat and shillelagh. The luncheon is slated for March 15 at Gurney's Inn in Montauk, starting at noon. Tickets are $50. See the website for more information.
Lastly, the gala cocktail party is scheduled for March 16 at Gurney's Inn from 4 to 8 p.m. Billy and the Barfights will perform, and there is a buffet and open bar. Tickets are $60 per person in advance, and available for purchase at Becker's Home Center in Montauk, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce or at Atlantic Wines & Liquors in Amagansett. Tickets are $75 at the door.
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