SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The stories of families lucky enough to walk in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade all seem to start in a similar way.
“From the time I was born I went to a parade and walked or I was pushed in the stroller,” said Lisa Fogarty.
“Marching in the parade with my family as a child or being pushed in a stroller,” added John Fogarty.
“My dad walked me in the parade when I was a baby,” Jerry Counihan says.
It’s a tradition they were born into.
“I felt that energy instilled in me from a very young age,” said Counihan.
And they turned it into a passion all their own.
“It’s definitely, it’s a religious holiday for us,” said Lisa Fogarty.
For Lisa, she first fell in love with the parade watching her father.
“He was a general chairman in 1974,” she said.
It’s a love that continues today, now alongside the current general chairman, and her husband John Fogarty, who has himself experienced the parade in many different ways over the years.
“To walk in the first ever flag unit that the parade committee put on or going to Benedictine and marching with the cadets and then being an Adjutant on the parade committee and helping put the parade together,” he said.
Maybe the only view he hasn’t had yet is as Grand Marshal.
“The adrenaline was pumping so high that they had to ask me to slow down,” said Counihan, who spent his entire life walking in the parade and was named Grand Marshal back in 2019.
“The world is spinning but you’re as happy as a man could be. It’s the pinnacle of a period in your life as an Irishman, particularly in Savannah, Georgia,” he said.
But as it would turn out Counihan would be the last Grand Marshal to walk in a parade after the pandemic hit last year.
“I would never have guessed it. I still find it hard and difficult to realize,” he said.
It’s a tough realization for all of these families, but one they understand, and it perhaps allows us all a chance to refocus.
“It gives us a time to think back to St. Patrick and some of the turmoil and things he had to go through,” said John Fogarty.
In reflection it seems there is one place on that parade route that all those who walk it are drawn.
“Every time we would walk past this Cathedral it was just so special,” said Lisa Fogarty.
“Coming by this Cathedral you get chills,” added John Fogarty.
“It’s not the parade as much as it is going through those doors and attending mass,” Counihan recalled.
Even though the parade won’t walk them past it this year, it seems this is where they’re still drawn and this is exactly where they’ll be St. Patrick’s Day morning.
Because inside is where they’ll find everything they truly need.
“Family and faith, and that’s what it’s all about,” Counihan said.