No one was wearing a green hat, nor waving an Irish flag—but everyone was in motion, moving barricades and barrels, and applying a wide, water-based green paint down the avenue that would take thousands of marchers to the finish line near the police booth hard by Railroad Avenue.
Orangetown Highway Departement workers got started early Sunday morning, putting up barricades and painting the green line stretching down E. Central Avenue for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pearl River, well before even the first bird was heard to chirp, or the first harsh horn of an impatient motorist would be sounded.
Possibly pressured by a desire to make everything as perfect as possible for Orangetown Highway Department superintendent Jim Dean—and with veteran foreman Mike Giebelhouse scouring the landscape along the parade route in a roving town pickup truck—the first-of-three shifts which had parade-day duties were hard at work.
The actual parade route would start at Town Line Road, come down Middletown Road to Central Avenue, with a final turn at S. Main Street, noted longtime highway department employee Dave Welborn, whose son Mike was a standout on the record-setting Tappan Zee HS football team last fall.
“We just want to get everything right,” Welborn said. “We want it (line) to come out nice.”
Giebelhouse, who understandably had little time for small talk on a brisk, sun-splashing morn, has been the highway department’s parade foreman many times.
“I’ve done it, 15 times probably, but not last year,” said the 30-year member of the department. “There’s no pressure; it’s pretty routine.”
When asked earlier in the week if the job was so routine, so matter-of-fact he could do it with his eyes closed, Giebelhouse replied, to hearty laughter, “No. But I can’t do anything with my eyes closed!”
Bill Hicks of Piermont was working his second parade with the highway department; Aldo Leone of New City was the first to operate a new machine that put down the paint; while Welborn was the graybeard of a sort, having had the duty “at least 18 years.”
Besides the long green line down Central, Welborn and others were expected to apply an estimated 20-25 shamrocks—at the turns, every intersection, and at the firehouse.
Ultimately, all that was needed was the parade.