Never Too Early for Green

    In honor of the group’s 50th year, the Montauk Friends of Erin will kick off the season of the green a bit early with a Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day party on Saturday at 3 p.m.
    But before that, at noon, the friends will unveil a new monument on the downtown green dedicated to the 50 grand marshals who have led the St. Patrick’s Day parade that traditionally wakes up the sleepy hamlet after a long winter and draws thousands of people. The Amityville Highland Pipe Band will perform, and a Coast Guard color guard will lead the ceremony.
    The monument will include the name of the parade’s 2012 grand marshal, which usually isn’t announced until late January. “It’s been hard to keep it a secret since we decided early in the summer,” said Joe Bloecker, the president of the friends. “I thought a monument would be a nice gesture to the grand marshals and their families, most of whom still live in Montauk,” he said.
    Mr. Bloecker came up with the idea for a memorial and the rest of the friends were enthusiastic about it, he said. On Tuesday morning, the East Hampton Town Board approved the monument, which has been placed just to the east of the steps to the gazebo. Construction began later that day. The materials and labor were donated by Tom and Kathy Ciccariello of the Seven Sons landscaping company.
    The final piece engraved with this year’s grand marshal’s name will not be installed until just before the unveiling ceremony. “We can’t let anyone know who it is before Saturday,” Mr. Bloecker said. Rumors have been spreading for the last week.
    The party afterward will run till 7 p.m. at the Old Harbor House. The $50 tickets include an open bar, a barbecue, and live music and dancing. Tickets can be bought in advance at Becker’s Home Center or at the Montauk Chamber of Commerce.