UTICA, N.Y. - The annual passing of the Shillelagh was held at the Stanley Theater Tuesday.
This is an annual tradition and it begins the week of events leading up to Utica’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Over 100 people, including past grand marshals, were at the Stanley to celebrate and congratulate the new grand marshal.
This year's parade Grand Marshal John Sullivan, received the shillelagh from last year’s Grand Marshal Judy Weeks.
"I think you'll make a wonderful grand marshal, and welcome to the club," Weeks said while passing the shillelagh to Sullivan.
Weeks says she enjoyed her time as the grand marshal, but she is happy to pass the shillelagh to someone like Sullivan.
"It was just a great honor to have this bestowed on me," Weeks said. "What the grand marshal is, what you've done for either the Irish community or to support different things all Irish, and he's done such a wonderful job."
Sullivan says he is excited to lead the parade on Saturday.
"I haven't got the words to tell you how humbled I am by this, and honored," Sullivan said. "It's a fantastic week, it really is an honor, you know, to be able to lead this parade."
Sullivan says his family is also excited and a lot of his relatives are coming from out of town to be in the parade. He says there will be about 30 of his family members joining him, including his wife.
"We're extremely honored and a little overwhelmed, I mean its touching that so many people care so much, you know, to honor my husband," Deborah Sullivan, Sullivan's wife said. "It's a big deal."
Sullivan says this year he and his wife will be doing something a little bit different in the parade, but it is a secret, so you'll have to wait until Saturday morning at 10 a.m. to find out.
'Thank you very, very much," Sullivan said, while accepting the shillelagh from Weeks.