Meet BBP’s grand marshal
BAYPORT—The Bayport-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 29th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday, March 11, and at the helm will be grand marshal Lenore Ringer-Prezioso.
Born in Long Beach, Ringer-Prezioso first moved to East Islip in 1976 and eventually moved to Bayport to be near her mother and five siblings. Once established in her new neighborhood, Ringer-Prezioso became involved with the chamber in 2006. She initially worked as a part-time reporter for the chamber-run Gazette before being asked to serve on the board of directors in 2008. In the years that followed, she served as the chamber’s secretary, vice president and president from 2015-2017.
Regarding her work with the parade, Ringer-Prezioso said she “started small,” volunteering for ad sales in 2007. She described herself as being like a “deer in the headlights” over all the preparation that went into the parade. “Every year I got a few more jobs, like writing grand marshal biographies and heading advertising sales,” she said. “Eventually, I earned a place on the executive committee, and in year 25, Chris [Cavanaugh] announced his retirement from the parade. He handed us a manual, and me a box of files and green jackets, and I became the director.”
The parade committee keeps an ongoing list of individuals who have served the community in a number of capacities. Every November, the committee meets to discuss the names and choose a grand marshal.
“It’s very humbling to sit at that table, especially with three past grand marshals, and to be chosen for this honor.”
Ringer-Prezioso is more than 50 percent Irish, along with German and some English ancestry. Her great-grandfather, James Tierney, immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1892. He settled in Queens with his wife, Nora.
According to Ringer-Prezioso, Tierney was a builder and a salesman. He also owned a bar and other pieces of real estate in Queens, as well as a beach house in Long Beach.
Ringer-Prezioso said researching her family’s history on Ancestry.com was an interesting experience. With the amount of information she already had, she was able to connect with distant cousins. She also found out that the family farmhouse in Northern Ireland is still owned by a Tierney descendent.
“As a little girl, my grandmother would tell me stories about my great grandparents coming from Ireland,” Ringer-Prezioso said. On her mother’s side, she would hear tales of her great-grandfather Albert Little coming through Ellis Island, where the spelling of his name was changed from Lyttle to Little.
Like many others, even those who aren’t Irish, Ringer-Prezioso remembers her mother making Irish soda bread and eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.
“I think my heritage has become more important as I’ve gotten older,” she said. “I wish I had asked my great-grandparents more questions. I have a few precious heirlooms, like my great-grandmother Tierney’s Belleek China tea cups, and I always take them out on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the journey they made to America.” Her great-grandfather’s citizenship papers are framed and hanging in her kitchen.
Ringer-Prezioso said she now has a few traditions of her own on St. Patrick’s Day.
“I wear green every day from the day after Valentine’s Day until St. Patrick’s Day; it’s called the ‘wearing of the green,’” she said. “I also bake 50 to 60 loaves of Irish soda bread that I deliver [usually warm] all over the Bayport-Blue Point [community]. The list of recipients grows every year.”
This year’s grand marshal explained that after 28 years as master of ceremonies, Walter Ramsey would be turning his duties over to Skip Pope, executive committee member. Pope has been involved with the chamber of commerce for over 35 years. He has also worked on the parade from its beginning.
Ringer-Prezioso said parade day in the Bayport-Blue Point community is her favorite day of the year. “All the work that the committee and I put into the parade makes it worthwhile when you see just about everyone in town lined up along the roadways with families, friends and neighbors celebrating our community and all things Irish,” she said.
There are currently 71 groups set to march next month, including six pipe bands, the 42nd Infantry Band and the Bayport-Blue Point High School marching band.
The high school band, directed by Michael Sarling, will be playing “76 Trombones” from “The Music Man.” An appropriate choice, since Ringer-Prezioso’s late father was a music teacher and she has very early memories of him singing that song to her. She said her father, along with her mother, played a large part in encouraging her to donate her time and talents to civic matters, as well as to those less fortunate.
The parade begins at the corner of Snedecor Avenue and Montauk Highway in Bayport at 11 a.m. and ends on Blue Point Avenue in Blue Point.
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