SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Savannah St. Partick’s Day Parade Committee selected the man who will lead this year’s parade.
Gerald “Jerry” Counihan is the Grand Marshal of the 195th parade. He was elected unanimously by the parade committee, which he’s been a member of since 1965.
“It’s something that I’ve looked at all my life and cherished the opportunity to actually be the Grand Marshal,” Counihan said.
Honoring his family’s Irish Catholic heritage is something Counihan says he learned to do early on from his parents and grandparents.
“They lived wonderful lives that were very religious,” he said. "They believed in their faith. They believed in their heritage. That was strongly passed down to us. They practiced their heritage. St. Patrick’s Day and St. Patrick’s activities were very important to them.
Counihan is the third member of his family to hold this title.
His brother Dennis was Grand Marshal in 2017, and his father Michael was Grand Marshal in 1988.
“It’s very exciting because it’s rare that two brothers are selected Grand Marshal so closely together [with] one year separating us,” said Dennis Counihan, who served as Grand Marshal in 2017.
Counihan says it's hard to put into words what continuing that tradition means to him.
“It’s something that I’ve looked at all my life and cherished the opportunity to actually be the Grand Marshal,” said Counihan.
They’re following in their father Michael’s footsteps who was Grand Marshall in 1988.
"Our father was greater than, bigger than life, and we'll never fit in his shoes," Dennis said. "But he has passed down, somewhat, his legacy to us."
Now Jerry is passing it down to his sons and their kids.
"This coming year, my son Brayden will be the same age that I was for his granddaddy, so it's very special," said Jerry's son Jeremy Counihan.
While he’s marched in the parade nearly all his life, Jerry says getting to lead it this year is a once in a lifetime experience he’ll treasure forever.
His public investiture is Sunday, March 3 from 2:45 p.m. - 4 p.m. at the DeSoto Hotel. The event is free and open to the public.