When the 44th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off in Harrison on Sunday, March 12, at 2 p.m., it will be led by Grand Marshal Alan Doffont, of Harrison, and Deputy Grand Marshals Kevin McGonigal and Donna McClure, both of Kearny.
This week, we profile the two deputies; next week, we’ll profile the grand marshal.
Deputy Grand Marshal Kevin McGonigal
Kevin McGonigal was born April 28, 1961, the fourth of seven children, to Joseph (Past Grand Marshal 2002) and Mima McGonigal.
He has three brothers and three sisters: Joe McGonigal (Past Grand Marshal 2014), Mike McGonigal, Sean McGonigal, Trish Murphy, Maura McGonigal and Deirdre McGonigal.
Born in Newark at St. Michael’s Hospital, McGonigal is a life-long resident of Kearny. He attended St. Cecilia’s Grammar School until fifth-grade and graduated from Washington School. He then went on to Kearny High School, where he played on the soccer and crew teams and worked at the Em-Kay Deli.
After graduating in 1979, he went to work driving a truck for Pulaski Foods, as well as working for Sean McGonigal Signs, the family business started by his immigrant grandfather Sean McGonigal. He worked for McGonigal Signs until 1992 and then went to work for IS Furniture, then Panasonic as a painter for five years.
After that, he transferred to New York City for the Painters Union Local 1456 at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and then on to ABC TV in 2004, where he currently is employed by ABC, Disney Studios and ESPN.
McGonigal’s family, long associated with Irish and Scottish cultural activities, led him to play the bagpipes and drums since 1971, first for the Kearny school system Brigadoon Pipe Band under the direction of Fran Raftery (Past Grand Marshal 1999), then graduating to St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band.
He and his brother Joe played with the Manchester Pipe Band from Connecticut where he attained a higher level of drumming. In that time, he achieved many awards, including winning the East Coast Championship, the North American Championship in Maxville, Ont., Canada, and ultimately winning the Grade 2 World Pipe Band Championship drum corps at Scotstoun Showgrounds, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1995.
He currently plays with his “home band” in Kearny.
McGonigal has one son, Eamonn, a fourth-generation piper who also played drums in the St. Columcille pipe band – winning the Northeast Championship in 1999.
A circumstance presented itself for the 1994 World Cup. A ticket was given up for him from a friend of a friend, whom he had yet to meet. It was RoseAnn McGuire. In November, he asked McGuire on a date … she accepted … and now 22+ years later, they are happily married.
McGonigal has always participated in various activities in and around West Hudson. A member of the Knights of Columbus, he is a Third Degree Knight, has ushered at Masses at St. Cecilia’s and also worked bingo. He was on the Garfield School PTA as corresponding secretary, has been proudly playing for the US Marine Corps West Hudson detachment for 39 of their 41 years and has been a member of the Scots-American Club for 30 years.
An avid cyclist, he has logged thousands of miles and raised thousands of dollars for various charities for multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and volunteer ambulance and fire squads. McGonigal was also a Kearny Youth Soccer coach for nine years.
McGonigal currently resides in Kearny with his wife, RoseAnn, both just blocks from their old neighborhoods.
Deputy Grand Marshal Donna McClure
Donna McClure moved to Kearny from Newark when she was 11 – and she attended St. Stephen’s School and Kearny High School.
She has served her community in several ways.
McClure has owned and directed Happy Time Preschool & Daycare, serving hundreds of Kearny children and families, for close to 25 years. She has hired many young scholars on their road to becoming teachers – 12 have already achieved that goal.
McClure has served for more than 10 years as a volunteer for “Woman Rising,” an organization that helps women to battle domestic violence.
McClure continues to be a staunch advocate for the Kearny Fire and Police departments.
“She is a hard worker and good neighbor always looking for what’s best for Kearny,” it’s often said of McClure.
(Editor’s note: The profiles were submitted by the United Irish Associations of West Hudson and were subject to editing by The Observer staff.)
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.