CLARKS SUMMIT — Borough council president Gerrie Carey will be decked out in green Saturday as she rides through the streets of downtown Scranton in an older model Cadillac convertible loaned to her family by longtime friend Bob Perry.
Jimmy Keeler, 2017 St. Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County president, notified the 74-year-old Carey on Feb. 17 the parade committee had approved her as the honorary parade marshal for the annual event which has been held in Lackawanna County since 1962.
Keeler commented on Carey’s appointment in a voice mail message on March 5.
“Gerrie Fitzpatrick Carey was nominated (for honorary parade marshal) by a member of the committee to be this year’s honorary parade marshal. The committee voted and she won and was elected to that position.”
Keeler stated Carey was nominated due to her strong Irish heritage and her belief in her strong Catholic faith.
He also said, “You’re not going to find anybody better than her and I think we all know that. She won overwhelmingly.”
Carey’s reaction to the announcement was amazement.
“They (the committee) agreed on it. I was extremely pleased, but shocked they thought so much of me,” she said.
“It was their (the committee’s) impression that I’ll be the first woman (to serve as honorary parade marshal). It is an honor.”
Born and raised in Clarks Summit, Carey has served on Clarks Summit Borough Council for 16 years and was elected council president four years ago. She is a member of the Society of Irish Women, the Federation of Democratic Women of Lackawanna County and Our Lady of the Snows Parish.
Carey’s eldest son, William (Hutch) Carey, will drive the Cadillac along the parade route with family and friends marching close by.
“This is also the first time I will be riding in the parade,” she said. “But my greatest honor is being able to do something to put Clarks Summit on the map.”
Carey’s late uncle, Francis Fitzgerald, was also honorary parade marshal many years ago, although she could not recall the year he served.
“He’s probably smiling down from heaven,” she said.
The names of parade dignitaries of this year’s event were publicly announced at the annual VIP dinner held March 5 at La Buona, formerly the “parish center.”
“I was entitled to invite all of my family and any special guests I’d like to bring,” Carey explained.
A pew at St. Peter’s Cathedral on Wyoming Avenue has been reserved for Carey and her family and friends as parade day festivities get underway with a mass at 10 a.m. Following The Brian P. Kelly Memorial Race at 11 a.m., the parade will begin at 11:45 a.m. at the intersection of Mulberry Street and Wyoming Avenue and end at the corner of North Washington Avenue and Vine Street.
Also expected to walk alongside the Cadillac convertible are Carey’s daughters, Mary Ellen and Colleen Berry, her son, Rick Carey; brothers, John Fitzgerald, of Cincinnati, OH, who is expected to arrive in town Friday; and Rick Fitzgerald; sisters, Molly Supanek and Marie Lynch; and grandchildren, Will and Nick Carey, Lauren, Cami and Chase Berry.
While Carey reflected on her Irish traditions, she said, “Being Irish and inheriting a lot of the Irish traditions has made me a very caring person. I’ve raised my children the same way – giving more than receiving.”
As downtown Scranton businesses welcome thousands of event-goers for the post-parade celebrations, Carey plans to spend her afternoon at Lee Electric, “where we’ve been going for many years. After that, I’ll return to my home for a traditional ham and cabbage dinner.”
Gerri Carey proudly displays a sign she received at the VIP dinner on March 5.