But this is one double duty load that Ray Kelly will happily bear when he leads the 2010 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade as its grand marshal. Kelly was revealed as the parade committee’s choice to head the 249th consecutive parade at a press conference Tuesday at the Irish Consulate offices in Manhattan.
“Commissioner Kelly will lead the marchers up Fifth Avenue on Wednesday, March 17th,” the committee said in a statement.
“We are truly delighted that Commissioner Kelly has been unanimously selected as the 2010 grand marshal,” said parade committee chairman, John Dunleavy. “He is a man who is beloved in the Irish-American community. He is an outstanding Irish American who has devoted a huge amount of his considerable energy and charisma to building enduring and durable ties between Ireland and America and the rest of the world. We know that his selection will be a widely popular one,” said Dunleavy.
For Kelly, 68, the grand marshal’s sash will be an addition to a wardrobe that includes numerous awards, medal ribbons and insignia of high rank. A former United States Marine who served in Vietnam, and who rose through the ranks of the NYPD, Kelly first served as police commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins from 1992-94. Kelly subsequently served as undersecretary for enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department before being appointed commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. He was senior managing director for global securities with Bear Stearns from 2000 to 2001. Kelly, whose Irish roots are mainly in Roscommon, has achieved notable success in recent years as commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg who appointed him to his second stint as commissioner in 2002.
That success has been most obvious in the plunging annual homicide rate in New York City, now seen as being one of the safest big cities in the nation. Kelly will take over as grand marshal from Mike Gibbons, who led the 2009 parade up Fifth Avenue.
Kelly was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. His father was James F. Kelly, his mother Elizabeth Kelly. He is the father of Fox Television presenter Greg Kelly. Ray Kelly graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in 1959. He later graduated with a degree from Manhattan College in 1961. He holds a law degree from St. John’s University School of Law, and postgraduate degrees from New York University School of Law and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He obtained all his graduate degrees while serving in the NYPD.
As grand marshal, Kelly will be escorted by a contingent of aides, but he will also have a second accompanying detail nearby in the parade line of march.
And that detail is the “Kelly Gang,” a charitable group made up of members named Kelly who aid a particular individual or cause every St. Patrick’s Day.
The gang is mustered annually by New York Post columnist, Keith Kelly.