PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The Saint Patrick's Day Parade is always filled with bagpipes and dancers, but who's the guy leading the action, and how did he get that honor?
FOX 29's Karen Hepp introduces us to the Grand Marshall.
The pipes are calling, the dancers practicing, and in a quiet corner of the northeast Paul "Tilly" Doris is secretly a little nervous. He's the Grand Marshal of this year's St Patrick's Day Parade.
The guys up at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Lodge 61 have hung a big banner and given him a special parking spot.
"It's a great honor- not only for me but for all the people I worked with over the years," Tilly said.
Tilly came to Philadelphia as an Irish footballer 40- years ago, to play Gaelic football and then coach. He raised a family along the way, and his daughter's a nurse, and his son an officer.
He worked as a teamster, but, his passion was helping Ireland.
He proudly displays Celtic crosses and harps made by the Irish prisoners fighting for independence. his cousin Tony was killed in the troubles.
The theme of this year's parade is St. Patrick Bless the Heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising.
On Easter of 1916, men and women took up arms against the British in Dublin. The rebellion lasted six days, and failed, but, ultimately sparked Irish independence.
"It woke Irish people to need for unity," Tilly explained.
What incensed so many, was the murder of the rebel leaders.
"The British executed 15 of the leaders within a few days, and the Irish people got their rage up," Tilly said.
"I think it is as significant as birth of the United States. I think Irish people proud of that moment they able to break away," said Parade Director Michael Bradley
Bradley says the 100 year anniversary of the Easter Rebellion is the perfect time to celebrate the heroes and history. There will be rebel songs, dances and floats to celebrate the evolution of Irish cause, and the constant rock of faith
"It's probably only parade in the country that starts with a mass, it's important to realized we are Irish and catholic, celebrating both religion and ethnic background," Bradley said.
The St. Patrick's parade mass is at of course St. Patrick's at 20th and Locust.
So come down join the FOX 29 gang of Kathy Orr, Bob Kelly, and Mike Jerrick. The rest of the FOX family will be marching.
See you March 13th on the Parkway.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you.
Use the #FOX29IRISH and tell us how you're getting ready!
Send us your pictures, and let us know how you're celebrating this year.
Don't forget, you can watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade live on FOX 29 on Sunday, March 13th.
We'll re-air our broadcast from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day March 17th.