This year will mark the first time that a mother and son will lead Glen Cove’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Julie and Christopher Albin, lifelong Locust Valley residents, will be the grand marshals on Sunday in what is perhaps the city’s most popular event. This year’s parade, which begins at 1 p.m., is Glen Cove’s 29th.
The parade is organized and sponsored by the Glen Cove Hibernians, who do not receive any funding from the city for the event.
It isn’t easy to become grand marshal. They are traditionally chosen by a committee of Hibernians based on their work for the organization and their community service.
“It’s a big thing to be chosen,” said Julie Albin, a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. “I’m very excited to march.”
Her son Chris, a registered nurse and a detective with the Glen Cove Police Department, said he was surprised to find out that he would lead the parade. And when he was told that his mother would be joining him, that was even better. “It’s quite an honor to share this with Mom,” he said.
Julie, who originally considered a career in business like her parents, decided instead to work as a draftsman for the Long Island Lighting Company. In 1955 she married Robert Albin, from Glen Cove. “Bob was a handsome sailor, of Irish descent,” she said. Being Irish, she added, has always been important to her.
In 1958, she went to work for her sister, Terry, as a receptionist at Tamar Hair Stylist in Locust Valley. Some of the customers were the wives of local doctors, and one of them sponsored Julie when she became a member of the Glen Cove Hospital Ladies Auxiliary. She remains a member, and has accrued more than 9,000 hours of volunteer work.
She loves volunteering at the hospital, she said, but also has a personal connection there. “When my son was 14, he said he wanted to go to West Point,” Julie recalled. “I told him he had to do community service to go there. He went to Glen Cove Hospital and volunteered in the emergency room.”
Chris soon became fascinated by medicine. “He spent his life there, and I never had to worry where my son was,” Julie said. “He ended up becoming a registered nurse. I wanted to give back to the hospital.”
Chris said that watching doctors and nurses work feverishly to save lives was what made him want a career in medicine, specifically as an emergency room nurse. “I still am a nurse,” he said. “I wanted to be a police officer and a nurse. I’ve been an R.N. since 1988.”
Chris is also a drummer. When he was 12 he joined the Gordon Highlander’s Pipe Band at the Locust Valley American Legion. His father joined, too, and the two had many memorable experiences together, which Chris treasures.
“I played the opening of the Hard Rock Café in New York City, multiple times at the Waldorf Astoria, and at a floating barge party in New York Harbor during the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks display,” he recalled. “And yes, even Carnegie Hall.”
According to Chris, the best thing about his time with the Gordon Highlander’s was the fact that he got to experience all of this with his father.
Chris joined the Glen Cove Police Department in 1994. During his 23 years there, he has worked on patrol, DWI enforcement, motorcycle patrol, narcotics enforcement and his current position as a detective. St. Patrick’s Day is a special day for him, and not only because he is Irish. He was promoted to detective on St. Patrick’s Day 2011.
Chris is also proud to be a Hibernian. “The Irish community needs to continue,” he said. “They were a big part of developing this country. Our heritage needs to stay alive so people will remember what the Irish did for this country.”
The Albins will be accompanied by aides Sophie McCabe and Fred Hill. McCabe, a graduate of Glen Cove High School, became a payroll assistant, and volunteers at the Glen Cove Senior Center. Her husband, Jim, who died last year, was probably Glen Cove’s most active Hibernian.
Hill is a Vietnam veteran who served in the 101st Airborne Division, and a longtime Hibernian. A former post office employee, he also worked in construction, and started his own business, Fred Hill Construction, in 1977. He has been involved in the parade since it began in 1989.
“Aides are usually picked by our parade committee,” Andrew Stafford, the Hibernians treasurer, explained. Stafford, who is also the event’s post chair, ran the parade from 2001 to 2010.
The proceeds from the parade always go to charities. This year’s designees are the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the American Cancer Society.
Preparing for the parade is a yearlong process. “We sell raffle tickets and a commemorative journal, and secure small sponsorships,” Stafford said. “It’s all raised by our members to benefit charities.”
Lisa Forgione has chaired the parade for the past four years. “I do it for my Irish heritage and my Irish friends and family,” she said, adding that it’s a lot of work, but she enjoys it. “I have to admit, though, it’s good to relax the day after the parade.”