PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The Philadelphia Saint Patrick's Day parade is just five days away and the excitement is building for one of the oldest parades in the country. The parade is now in its 247th year.
From Delaware County to County Donegal, Barney Boyce is making headlines. The 82-year-old who hails from Milford, Ireland, will be leading the way down Market Street as the grand marshal of this year's Philadelphia’s Saint Patrick's Day parade.
"It's quite the honor. It's something that never crossed my mind in all the years I've been. I never expected anything like this,” he told FOX 29.
Longtime family friend and parade director Michael Bradley says Barney has stood out for many years and was an easy choice.
"The main thing in my mind, he's always in the background helping, never once looking get his picture taken or out in front of everyone," he explained.
Considered "Irish royalty" by those who know and love him, Barney Boyce came to this country in 1957 at 21 years old. 13 months later, he was drafted in the U.S. Army--serving in Germany for two years. Shortly after his return he met the Irish girl of his dreams Carme Crossin at a VFW dance hall. They would marry in 1965 and raise a tight knit family together at their home in Upper Darby.
"I think it's great when Irish families stay together and do things together you know," Barney explained.
Barney and Carmel have dedicated their lives to giving back to helping those in need and keeping their Irish heritage alive. Barney holding more than 30 leadership positions on local Irish boards and organizations.
"He's been involved in the community for decades, decades. He's been dedicated, he and my mom have been really dedicated," his daughter Karen Boyce said.
The TV is rarely on in the Boyce house. It's all about Irish music and dance at family get- togethers.
Barney says being named the grand marshal is one of the highest honors for an Irishman. His better half of more than 50 years says she couldn't be prouder. We all agree he is a true Irish treasure.
You can catch the St. Patrick's Day parade live right here on FOX 29 on Sunday, March 12th from noon to 3. Then, you can catch it again with a rebroadcast on Saint Patrick's day at noon.