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Past Grand Marshals
Jim Dinnan in center standing next to 1976 Grand Marshal John O'Donovan
Garnd Marshals, past and present
Past Grand Marshals on Howe St
2001-03-11 Officers and GMs



Bernadette Canning

2024 Grand Marshal

Bernadette Canning is a second and third generation Irish American with her ancestors entering the United States through Ellis Island. James J Canning, Jr. was Bernadette’s father and his parents emigrated from Gorvagh, Mohill, Leitrim in 1903 and 1904 (Canning-Walpole.) Bernadette’s mother, Ann McGovern Canning, grandparents came from Black Lion, Cavan (McGovern-Maguire) and Gooseberry Hill, Newmarket, County Cork (Sullivan-Shine) emigrating prior to 1900. Bernadette was born and raised in the New Haven area and is the 4 th of 5 children; her siblings are Imelda, James, Elizabeth, and Monica.

As a child Bernadette’s family lived in St. Mary’s Church parish and her 1 st parade participation was marching with St. Mary’s Grammar School. Growing up in the New Haven area, her family regularly attended the parade as part of their St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Prior to joining the parade committee, Bernadette and her husband, John Tolbert, participated in the parade carrying the county flags of Ireland with the NHGF&HC.

It was Bernadette’s husband John who initially joined the parade committee. He recruited Bernadette’s sister, Monica Canning-Ball, and eventually Bernadette followed. They marshaled at the 2012 parade, loved the excitement and experience and the commitment grew from there. Since joining the committee, Bernadette and John have attended as many meetings and fundraising events as possible, usually volunteering in some capacity, many times chairing events and frequently Bernadette baked dessert or Irish Bread for the event. In her 2 nd parade season, Bernadette assumed the Corporate Chairman position working on fundraising for the parade and continued until being selected as Chief of Staff in 2017. As an Officer and as Chairman, Bernadette brought her business acumen to the position and pushed to integrate greater committee use of technology, exploring, and taking advantage of non-profit grants and adopted an electronic payment and ticketing platform which enhanced the organization’s financial internal controls. In the time Bernadette has been an Officer, her husband John Tolbert has served as President of the Knights of St. Patrick, is the Parade Custodian and is the event chair/race director of an annual 5k and other fundraising events. Her sister, Monica Canning-Ball is President of the West Haven Irish American Club and served as Parade Coordinator. Monica’s husband, Bob Ball, has chaired the Parade Awards. Bernadette’s sister and brother-in-law, Imelda and Fred Hartman, may not be official parade committee members, but have supported Bernadette in many ways including Fred taking photos, Imelda making a handmade quilt that Bernadette raffled in appreciation of the parade committee members and helping in the church basement before Mass on Parade Day. It is truly a family commitment.

Bernadette is employed by a pediatric practice, Children’s Medical Group, in Hamden, CT as a Practice Manager. Bernadette and her husband, John Tolbert live in Branford with their chocolate labrador, Millie. When not busy at work or volunteering for the Parade, she is usually cooking, baking, or gardening. Bernadette is grateful of her experience as a Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee member and honored to be this year’s Grand Marshal. She is appreciative of all who offer their time and talent and who generously donate to keep the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade an ongoing, free to the public, family friendly event celebrating Irish American Heritage. Most of all she is appreciative of her husband, John Tolbert, who pushed her to volunteer, is behind and beside her every step of the way and has made this experience possible.

Bernadette Canning



2023 Joanne Conlan
2020-2022 Seamus Bohan
2019 Courtney Lundgren Connors
2018 Patrick J. Smith
2017 Clifford W. Lynch, Jr.
2016 Colleen A.M.B. Hines
2015 Timothy F. Gallogly
2014 Kelly Canning Ruickoldt
2013 Joseph M. Lynch
2012 Kevin A. Smith
2011 Walter J. Nester, Jr.
2010 James J. McGovern
2009 Brian G. Enright
2008 Bernadette Smyth LaFrance
2007 Mary Lyng Malenda
2006 John E. Cannon
2005 Coleman W. Walsh, Jr.
2004 Eileen Sullivan Donadio
2003 Dorinda Keenan Borer
2002 Kevin J. Smith
2001 John J. Doyle
2000 Thomas E. Gallagher



1999 Michael McCann
1998 Mary Gallagher Carter
1997 Edward O’Neill
1996 Katie O’Keefe Gerhard
1995 William F. McCabe
1994 William T. O’Brien
1993 William M. Hackett
1992 Laurence McGivney
1991 Michael Bohan
1990 Thomas F. Slater
1989 Kathleen A. Reilly
1988 Cmdr. John R. O’Connor
1987 Robert C. Shanley
1986 Patrick J. Hanlon
1985 James H. Sullivan
1984 Finbarr Moynihan
1983 Capt. Walter J. Walsh
1982 Michael V. Lynch
1981 James C. Bohan
1980 Hon. Charles D. Gill
1979 Robert J. Eagan



1978 James J. Dinnan
1977 Stephen Madigan
1976 John C. O’Donovan
1975 Edward P. McMahon
1974 Raymond J. Eagan
1973 Wiliam J. Heffernan
1972 Joseph T. Carr
1971 William T. O’Connell
1970 Col. James T. Flemming
1969 Edward A. Taylor
1968 Ray Ward, Jr.
1967 Chief Francis J. Sweeney
1966 James C. Bowe
1965 Howard J. Sullivan
1964 Chief Francis V. McManus
1963 Col. Joseph H. Flemming
1961 John M. Golden
1960 Chief Thomas J. Collins
1959 Majr Gen. James M. Quinn
1958 Hon. James S. Shanley
1957 Patrick J. Goode
1956 William J. Clancy
Hon. Mayor Richard C. Lee
Hon. William F. Gallogly
Hon William F. Gallogly Jr.


The Grand Marshal shall:

A)  Attend all meetings of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and as many standing committee meetings as possible;

B)  Lead the St. Patrick’s Day Parade;

C)  Review and sign the Parade orders;

D)  Assist the Chairperson on all matters pertaining to the Parade;

E)  Chair the General Committee meetings in the absence of the Chairperson;

F)  Meet with the present officers, along with the Executive Committee Chairperson, prior to the first General Committee meeting to explain the year’s plan;

G)  Be responsible for collecting minutes of each meeting, any correspondence, and all public relations material pertaining to the Parade. All this shall be kept in a binder during the year, and at the first executive meeting attended it shall be turned over to the Executive members;

H)  Be directly involved in all aspects of fundraising to support the parade.

Interested in joining the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee?
Contact our Chairperson at


The Associated Irish Societies is an IRS recognized non-profit with 501(c) (3) status. All donations are tax-deductible. Donations are payable to the Associated Irish Societies.


St. Patrick's Day Parade Greater New Haven logoThe Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade is Connecticut’s largest single day spectator event attracting more than 325,000 people to the streets New Haven each year. The Parade is a longstanding tradition in the New Haven community, and the members of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee volunteer to ensure the tradition continues.


P.O. Box 9078
New Haven, CT 06532

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