FLINT — Like father, like son.
In being named the 2011 Grand Marshal of the 30th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in Genesee County, James Patrick O’Dea is following in his father’s Irish Catholic footsteps.
His father James Fredrick O’Dea served as grand marshal in 1988. Both are members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Sullivan & O’Sullivan division.
As this year’s Grand Marshal, O’Dea will preside over a party, a parade, a road race, an awards presentation and other festivities.
“ It’s considered an honor,’’ said Cathy Gentry, a spokesperson for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. “He works with past grand marshals to make the day successful. He’s chosen from a group based on his level of involvement.”
O’Dea is the plant manager for Acument Global Technologies in Grand Blanc. His 28 years in the manufacturing industry began at the General Motors Chevrolet Flint Engine Pant and has taken him to Indiana, Alabama and back home to Michigan. He was born in Flint, raised in Clio and graduated from Central Michigan University.
O’Dea’s ancestors arrived in Michigan in 1909 and in Flint in 1914.
He and his wife Lorri Ann have two sons. James is a sophomore at the University of Michigan- Flint and Colin is a sophomore at Grand Blanc High School.
St. Patrick’s Day festivities will kick off at 11:30 a.m. Thursday with the Mass Awards celebration at St. Michael’s Church, located at Fifth Avenue and Saginaw streets.
Honorees include M. Richard Shaink, president of Mott Community College, who will receive the Mass Award for his exceptional support of Irish culture; Lou Bryan of Clio will receive the Irish Father of the Year Award and Betty Marie Davis Cowden of Flushing will be honored as Irish Mother of the Year.
Shaink, president of MCC since 2000, is heavily involved in civic work. He is a member of the Flint Rotary Club, the Hundred Club of Flint and many other state and national professional organizations.
Bryan, a retired General Motors employee, is cited for a lifetime of charitable and public service work including the Vienna Township Planning Commission, the Knights of Columbus, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Marine Corp. League. He has coordinated the Marines’ Toys for Tots drive for five of the past six years. He and his wife Nadine will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in September.
Cowden’s list of involvement include Girl Scout Leadership, the Jaycee Ladies Auxiliary, American Diabetes Association, Michigan Diabetes in Youth Task Force, Ladies Order of Moose, USA, AAU and MHSAA Gymnastics judging. She is a charter member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Our Lady of Limerick Division. She and her husband David will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in July.
Mass will follow the awards presentation at about noon. Immediately after Mass is the Irish Family Walk along Saginaw Street from the church to the Masonic Temple where the festivities will take place from 2 -11 p.m. Dinner at a cost of $10 per person will be served from 3:30-6 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by the Blue Hawaiians and Irish dancers will perform.
As for the traditional wearing o’ the green, “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,’’ Gentry said, adding Hibernians wear special green jackets on the occasion. The Masonic Hall will be decorated with more shamrocks than a field in Ireland, she said.
Caitlin Durkin of Davison reigns as Miss Hibernia this year, capturing the title in a pageant last month. Aubrey Routowicz of Flusihing was first-runner up and Sarah Goyette of Grand Blanc placed third.
Additionally, the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race will begin at 5:30 p.m. running a new course that begins at the Masonic Temple and wind through the University of Michigan- Flint campus and feature the New Guilkey Trail that goes thru Mott Estate. The four-mile race is sanctioned by Track Athletic Congress (TAC) and is an event of the Genesee-Lapeer-Shiawassee Regional Fitness Council.
Other events will include a fitness walk and a Little Blarney Trot for children. FOr more race details, contact Complete Runner at 810-233-8851.