NORTH WILDWOOD ─ Representing the "perfect Irish-American woman," Dolly McGee presided as grand marshal at the city's 2018 St. Patrick's Day parade March 17. As a brisk wind blew, the crowd gathered at the steps of City Hall for the ceremony commemorating the day and its meaning.
Tartan plaids and countless shades of green mingled while the "skirl" (sound) of bagpipes played.
Mayor Patrick Rosenello opened the ceremony and remarked on the religious significance St. Patrick's Day holds for Irish-Americans and the day's celebration of community and friends.
Rosenello, a second generation American, can trace his lineage to Swinford, County Mayo.
Rosenello praised McGee as the "perfect Irish-American wife and mother," just as 2017 grand marshal Jack Connelly personified the Irish-American husband and father.
McGee, formerly of Philadelphia, is married to her husband Bill of 58 years. They moved to North Wildwood in 1997, although their first island home was bought in 1983.
The McGees have two daughters, five grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. Dolly worked for the telephone company before retiring.
McGee told the Herald she and her husband "downsized" in 2012 and relocated to Court House. Known for her vocal abilities, McGee sings for various occasions and organizations, including the VFW and Police and Fire.
She volunteers for several organizations.
With great emotion, McGee thanked Rosenello and city officials for the honor of being named grand marshal.
McGee spoke of "many Irish men and women who could stand up here beside me" and accepted the commemorative plaque in their honor.
Both McGee's parents were "100-percent Irish," according to McGee.
"And that was before DNA (testing)," McGee added and laughter rippled across the crowd.
McGee remembered her father who encouraged her to be proud of who she was and of being Irish. McGee thanked her "precious husband Bill" and family for their love and support over the years.
Why celebrate the life of a slave who tended sheep a millennium ago? Historians still quibble over where Patricius (Patrick in Latin) came from in ancient Britain.
Strong evidence suggests the missionary was captured along the English coast, just below the Scottish border. As a youth, Patrick found himself a prisoner of Irish raiders in the 400s, after the fall of the Roman Empire in 410 A.D.
Until his 21st birthday, Patrick served an Irish chieftain, tending sheep and pigs among the rolling hills. After his escape, Patrick decided to return and present the message of love and forgiveness to those who had enslaved him.
Like McGee's family, countless Irish immigrated to America, searching for a better life. McGee humbly referred to them and continues to live out their vision of a better world.
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