Michael Moroney's first memories of the Rockland County St. Patrick's Day Parade go back to marching in it as a student at the St. Margaret School.
"I was the fifth of six children, so I probably started marching in kindergarten," Moroney said.
Since then, Moroney has taken on many roles in the parade, from marching as an aide to Grand Marshal Ed Moane in 1995 to coordinating the efforts of the Orangetown Police Department, which he joined in 1994, moving up to Lieutenant in 2007.
"I'm 44 and about 40 of the 50 years, I remember," Moroney said. "I've seen this parade from every angle."
This year, he will see it from the front as Parade Commander of the 50th Anniversary St. Patrick's Day Parade, which will start its way through Pearl River 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
"Because of my history with all of the different Irish groups, growing up with his parade as well as my involvement with the police department coordinating it for a couple of years, I do take it as quite an honor to be named the parade commander on such a celebratory occasion as the 50th anniversary," Moroney said.
"I'm right out front. I told the parade committee the real reason they wanted me there is people would run out of water balloons and eggs by the time they went by."
Irish culture has always been an important part of Moroney's life. He is the son of Rockland County Legislator Patrick Moroney, who moved to the United States from Ireland in 1956. His mother's parents were both born in Ireland as well.
"My father still has brothers and sisters living in Ireland," Moroney said. "I have cousins over there. It is a big part of my background and culture.
"My parents march every year. My mother marches with the Ladies' AOH. She also started the Rose of Rockland. Last year was their first year. My father is involved with the athletic associations. The AOH."
Patrick Moroney will be one of the former Grand Marshals marching in the parade. He was the Grand Marshal in 1994. He often marches with multiple groups, reaching the end of the route and walking back up to rejoin others he is a part of.
"Thankfully, he's still in shape to do that," Michael Moroney said. "He has been known to come down the avenue two or three times.
"The guy who was the driving force behind starting the Rockland County parade was Ray Sheridan. He was a New York City police officer and he had an insurance business. Ray was a good friend of my father's. I remember knowing Ray as a small child. He always had a distinct voice. You knew it was him when he called before he said who it was."
Moroney now has three sons of his own -- Joseph, a freshman at Oneonta State, Stephen, a junior at Pearl River High School and John, a sixth grader at the Pearl River Middle School. Stephen plays with the Rockland County Gaelic Athletic Association as his father did from the ages of eight to 18.
Michael Moroney helps coach his son's team. He is also a member of the Rockland County AOH, the Knights of Columbus, the Elks and the Rockland County Police Emerald Society and Police Pipes and Drums, and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Rockland Chapter.
He has also seen the parade grow into the family-friendly event it is now.
"It really seems to be a full-day family event," Moroney said. "People have house parties and put out food. It's a really nice day. It's something nice to see."