Grand Marshal of  The Grand Parade XXXIV - Kevin  Fennelly

Kevin Fennelly
Photo by Jessica Gallagher, article by John Marxs, Dispatch-Argus

Fennelly, who is in his 80s but has the heart, spirit and get-up-and-go of someone in their 30s, is a Davenporter at heart who currently lives in Moline.

A father of three and grandfather of nine, Fennelly is from a family of 15 children. His parents came from Ireland, landed at Ellis Island, N.Y., met and married in Chicago, and took up residence in Davenport.

Fennelly said he had a wonderful childhood.

"There was always something happening,'' he said of growing up in a house filled with kids. "It was the norm for Catholic families to be large in those days, and we fit the norm. I wouldn't trade it for the world. We had fun; we laughed; we created our share of headaches and trouble; but we knew we always had each other. Unique to some, but normal to us.''

Fennelly, who has a heart filled with Irish gold, was surprised when he was named grand marshal and earned a ride in a convertible come March 16.

"I was playing cards (euchre) with some friends, and Tom Otting  one of the good guys going  asked if I'd accept the honor of being grand marshal,'' Fennelly said. "First, since it was Otting asking, I had to make sure there was nothing funny going on, because, well, that's how he is. He was sincere, and I was elated. What an honor.''

For over four decades, Fennelly has shared goodwill and good cheer by visiting hospitals and assisted-living sites with his wife of 62 years, Rose, while wearing his famous leprechaun outfit.

Grand Parade XXXIV will be no different. Fennelly will be dressed in his trademark outfit, which was made by Rose.

"I will share the weekend with family and friends, but it's just Rose and me in the convertible,'' Fennelly said, before going into a heartfelt, five-minute run on how lucky he is that his pretty and understanding wife took a flier on him over six decades ago, and how grateful he is to have three wonderful children and a bevy of amazing grandkids.

"You bet I will be wearing my outfit. It's the perfect time to share it. What's neat to me is I will be sitting next to Rose and experiencing a really special day. Talk about fortunate.''

The weekend plan is similar for McCormick Pries, who in addition to bettering the lives of many through her work, has also been a tireless volunteer locally for decades.

"It will be an opportunity to take it all in with family,'' she said. "It's an honor to be chosen. I know it will go by fast, but I'm going to enjoy how special the day will be.''