Glen Cove’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will mark its 35th anniversary with Bayville resident and 9/11 first responder Ryan Doherty leading the way as the historic parade’s grand marshal.
Doherty, who will help celebrate the heritage and rich culture of the Irish, was an easy choice for the honor by this year’s parade committee.
Typically, choosing a grand marshal takes time. The parade committee usually has a few choices, but this year, organizers knew instantly who they wanted to represent their community.
“When someone suggests the likes of Ryan, we know we are not going any further,” said Andy Stafford, the parade’s treasurer.
Doherty was born in Smithtown in 1974, and his upbringing was deeply influenced by his Irish immigrant parents, William and Teresa Doherty. His father is one of the parade’s founders and a former grand marshal.
Doherty’s involvement in the Irish community is plentiful as an avid bagpiper for the
Pipes and Drums of the Police Emerald Society of Westchester County, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department Ceremonial Unit Pipes and Drums. He is also a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Knights of Columbus, the Elks Club, the NYPD Holy Name Society, and the Brotherhood of the Fallen, NYC Chapter.
Doherty is known among his friends as a history buff, a craft beer enthusiast, a Notre Dame football fan, a New York Islanders hockey fan, and a Gaelic Athletic Association supporter. He holds dual citizenship for both the United States and Ireland, where he celebrated his first birthday.
A 1992 Locust Valley High School graduate, he received a bachelor’s of science degree in Aviation Administration from SUNY Farmingdale in 1996. He worked for Aer Lingus Irish Airlines and later, became as a U.S. Customs Inspector at JFK International Airport.
Doherty shifted his career and attended the New York Police Department Police Academy where he was awarded the Chief of Police Award for highest academic average for the class of 1999. That July, Doherty became a police officer for the MTA Police Department.
One of the most impactful moments in his career came as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Manhattan. At 26-years-old, Doherty was tasked with providing security and safety, while also helping pull victims from the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center towers. He said the most physically challenging moments for him were the days in the aftermath of the attacks.
“You couldn’t even see in front of your face,” he said. “It was like walking on the surface of the moon.”
Doherty was recently diagnosed with respiratory ailments and other certified illnesses as a result of spending over 1,000 hours at Ground Zero during the rescue and recovery operations.
He hopes that his involvement in the parade will help create awareness that there are many who are still suffering mentally and physically in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
In April 2003, Ryan was promoted to the rank of sergeant and is currently assigned to the Operations Unit Emergency Operation Center in Long Island City. The Irish Echo Law-and-Order Leader also honored Doherty in 2011. Last year, he received a distinguished service award from the Nassau County Municipal Police Chiefs Association.
In addition to his role as the grand marshal, Doherty is partially responsible for acquiring funds for local corporate sponsorships to run the parade. Any profits from the parade go to the charity of choice, which Doherty has selected as the Winters Center for Autism, in honor of his cousin, Joseph Winter, who died from complications from Covid-19 at 54 years old.
The Long Island-based nonprofit organization helps support adults with autism through job creation, training and placement, while helping businesses employ people with autism.
“There’s a job for everybody, we just got to find the right spot for the right person,” Doherty said.
Doherty and his cousin had a strong bond growing up. The Winters family was instrumental in helping Doherty’s parents immigrate to New York and get their start in Glen Cove.