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Jan 21, 2019 11:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Hibernians Honor Steve Lemanski As Grand Marshal

Steve Lemanski stands along the Hampton Bays Saint Patricks Day parade route. VALERIE GORDON
Jan 23, 2019 10:57 AM

When Steve Lemanski was awarded the honor of leading the 15th annual Hampton Bays St. Patrick’s Day parade as grand marshal, he was instantly transported to his childhood.

On Friday afternoon, while occasionally sipping his black pike roast Starbucks coffee, the 64-year-old recalled an old photograph of his family singing at a St. Patrick’s Day party. With a chuckle, he said he can still see the green and shamrock emblazoned vest that his late father, Ted Lemanski, wore as he stood beside him. His younger sister, Mary Mitchell, and his mother, Julia O’Meara, also were decked out in Irish gear.

Mr. Lemanski said his first thought upon opening the box that contained the green, white and orange sash reading “Grand Marshal,” in orange script, was: “This is for you, Mom and Dad.”

He was awarded the title in November at the Man of the Year Ball held by the Michael Collins Division 11 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Hampton Bays chapter of the Irish organization that hosts the parade every year.

Although, the East Quogue resident was born in the Bronx, his parents—more specifically, his Irish mother, whose father, Denis O’Meara, was born and raised in Cloughjordan, Ireland—instilled in him the culture’s traditions. His father, who grew up just a few blocks from his future wife, was Polish.

For three years, serving as the president of the local Hibernians society, and for seven years prior as a crucial member of the parade committee, Mr. Lemanski said he was constantly pushing for other people to be recognized before himself. In fact, he was a member of the committee that selected last year’s grand marshal, Fergus Scully, as well as William Hughes in 2016.

“There’s a lot of guys out there that deserve it,” he said, adjusting his thick-rimmed black rectangular glasses. “I was just gobsmacked. It’s an honor to be chosen.”

The parade—which runs from the Hampton Bays Middle School on Ponquogue Avenue to the Hampton Medical Atrium on Montauk Highway—is held every year to pay homage to the Irish community living in the Hamptons.

In fact, over the past decade, Mr. Lemanski has worked to build community partners in surrounding neighborhoods such as East Quogue, Quogue and Southampton Village, to make the parade more inclusive. “We say, ‘Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.’”

Over the years, he has also coordinated fundraisers for the parade, which he said costs approximately $40,000 annually, and encouraged local businesses to place ads in the organization’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Journal. Additionally, he has helped coordinate the parade’s line of march, booked bands, and, as he called it, “worked in the trenches.”

Peter Feeney, a member of the parade committee, called Mr. Lemanski a “natural choice” for this year’s grand marshal. “He is a hands-on leader and gives his time in many capacities,” he said. “As I said, it was a natural choice.”

Mr. Lemanski first visited Ireland in 1976 with his girlfriend at the time, Elizabeth Reilly, who is now his wife. He said he fell in love with his grandfather’s homeland almost immediately. “I got out of the car and I said, ‘I feel like I’m home.’” He has returned more than a dozen times since then with his five children.

He first moved to Southampton in 1979, when he was offered a job as a structural engineer for Southampton Welding, which at the time was owned by John Degan. He moved to Water Mill several years later to raise his children, and settled in East Quogue roughly two years ago after his youngest son, Jack, went off to college.

Paying homage to Mr. Degan, Mr. Lemanski named his Southampton-based businesses Southampton Building and Southampton Engineering.

“You’re the face of the ancient Hibernians—you have to be someone who’s going to put their best foot forward and represent and be a part of the community,” Mr. Lemanski said of his new role. “I’m all in.”

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Comhghairdeas, Steve!
By MrsD (53), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 19 4:13 PM
By Moral Dolphin (50), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 6:25 AM
A Nice Guy Finishes First !!!!!!!!!!!!
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Jan 23, 19 10:27 AM
Well deserved! Congratulations my friend!
By CalGal (2), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 10:37 AM
Congratulations to a good guy!

By housedoc1 (12), Southampton on Jan 24, 19 11:16 AM