February 23, 2018
UTICA, NY – Former GAIF director honored as 2018 Grand Marshal
On Friday, February 9th, long-time Great American Irish Festival director Judy Weeks was named Grand Marshal of the 2018 Utica St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The announcement was made at the annual Halfway to the Great American Irish Festival Hooley.
Judy’s involvement in the local Irish community started back in 2004, where she oversaw the hiring and placement of the food vendors for the Great American Irish Festival. Assuming more responsibility each year, she eventually rose to become the festival’s director in 2013, a post she held for five years until a debilitating stroke caused her to hand over the reins this year. She also directed the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade for the past eight years.
Parade Director David Wood addressed the crowd to announce Weeks as the grand marshal, who stood up from her wheelchair to say thank you to the crowd. “She has been given the honor, the well-deserved honor (of grand marshal),” said Events Coordinator Colleen Martin. “It’s been her passion to make this festival be successful and to contribute to the Irish community.”
Weeks knows well what it means to be chosen as the Parade Grand Marshal, having been a part of the team charged with the daunting job of selecting past Grand Marshals from a field of excellent nominees in years past.
Fighting back from her serious stroke, Judy began her long road to recovery with months of therapy, and despite her condition, she continued to act as director for the 2017 festival; reluctantly and surprisingly announcing her decision to step aside in the first post-festival meeting of GAIF committee members.
“I had to let go of a lot, but it’s something that’s in my heart and I love every minute of it, and I love the hundreds of people that I’ve met and worked very hard with,” said Weeks. “We’ve cried and we’ve laughed together and have done an amazing job, I think, for the community.”
Judy will be feted at the Grand Marshal’s reception on March 13th, where she’ll receive the ceremonial shillelagh from last year’s honoree, Vaughn Lang. Besides leading the Utica St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Genesee Street on Saturday March 17th at 10 AM, Judy will also serve as an ambassador for the Great American Irish Festival throughout the year.
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