The 61st Annual Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day
Parade will be led by James Grimes, this year’s Grand Marshal
by Sue Giustino
A fourth-generation resident of Montauk, Jim’s history in Montauk started with his Great Grandfather who arrived in 1904. Looking further back, his ancestors migrated to Canada from France in the 1600’s. His Great, Great Grandfather was a Notary Public for the first French settlement. Being the 61st Grand Marshal, Jimmy is following in his dad Vinnie’s footsteps; he was Grand Marshal in 1986.
“I was completely taken by surprise,” Jim told me. He was in Ireland when Brian Mathews [President of the Montauk Friends of Erin] texted him and asked him to call. Jim texted back that he would call him in the morning, “It’s 2am, and I have to walk up the hill to get service to call you.” Brian replied, “Put your boots on and hike the hill, it may be worth it.” So, he thought about why Brian might be calling him and decided he should make the call.
“I’m honored to be a second-generation Grand Marshal, just like my dad.” Jim continued. “It’s a good fraternity to be a part of. I hope I can stand up to the gauntlet.” I mentioned that he may need some training, but he assured me that his time in Ireland over the holidays was a good start.
Jimmy has spent his entire life here, born, raised, and schooled, with the exception of college and a few years of working upstate. As we spoke about his experiences, he said that he hasn’t lived further than about a mile from his family home where he grew up with his parents and his brother Keith. Also, that his dad was born in his grandmother’s house in Shepherds Neck. Jim’s brother Keith and wife Susan live, work, and raised their children here in Montauk.
Jim met his wife Norah here in Montauk, although she is originally from Donegal Ireland. Together with their three children the family continues to be an integral part of the community. A local business owner, he owns James Grimes Land Design, and the retail nursery, Fort Pond Native Plants, which he runs with his daughters Lee and Niamh, along with a dedicated staff. He commented that he’s fortunate to have a tight company with a great crew. His son Noah is a veterinarian residing in Texas.
Recently, he’s been trying to back out of the business a bit and spend more time at their small farm in Donegal, where his wife has many relatives. They have a lovely cottage and some sheep, and are working on increasing the live stock to include cattle and donkey. He loves the amazing scenery and the friendly, welcoming people in his town. It seems there will even be a small contingent of friends from the local restaurant and ‘Glen Bar’ coming over for the parade.
Always giving back and being invested in the community, Jimmy is a Town Trustee, as well as a member of a long list of service groups. In addition to his 45 years in the Montauk Fire Department, he’s involved in the Boy Scouts of America Troop 136- where he was named the Distinguished Citizen of the Year, 2018-, Montauk Lions Club, St. Therese Catholic Church Building Committee, New York State Invasive Plant Council, East Hampton Nature Preserve Committee, and Co-Chair of the Harbor Management Committee. In the past, he was on the Montauk Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and a Montauk Historical Society Trustee.
I spoke with Jimmy’s daughter Lee who said “We siblings are so happy that he’s finally been selected- it’s been a long time coming. We are very proud!”
Congratulations on an honor well deserved!
The Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Sunday March 26th, 2023. This year’s Grand Marshal, Jimmy Grimes, will march with the Friends of Erin in the parade in NYC on March 17th, as well as in Montauk on the 26th.