Jack Perna, the superintendent of the Montauk School, has been chosen to be the grand marshal of the 2013 Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day parade, which will begin on March 17 at 11:30 a.m., a week earlier than it has been traditionally held.
The vote for Mr. Perna was unanimous at the Friends of Erin meeting on Thursday night.
The naming of the grand marshal is always big news in the hamlet at this time of year. Residents try to guess who will be chosen, throwing prominent residents' names around. Many started sending their kudos to the popular principal Thursday night via Facebook.
Mr. Perna is known as a cheerleader for Montauk's students, even years after they graduate. For example, when he hears that a former student made the honor roll or was on a dean’s list at college, he makes a call to congratulate them. He calls the students “my kids,” as if the school is one big happy family, which it appears to be when one is visiting the school.
An owner of Pizza Village in downtown Montauk for many years, Mr. Perna always hired local young people to work behind the counter. And when the older students go on field trips to Washington or Albany, he either drives or flies to spend a day with them there.
Mr. Perna is no stranger to awards and honors. He was named man of the year at the annual end-of-season party in 2000 hosted by the Montauk Chamber of Commerce. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, he was chosen by the Montauk Historical Society to flip the switch that lit up the Montauk Lighthouse with over 3,000 white holiday lights.
In an e-mail message Friday, Mr. Perna said he’d have to come up with new material for all the publicity he will soon be doing for the Friends of Erin. “But at my age I don’t know if I can,” he said.