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Breakfast Meeting at Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce; St. Patrick's Day Parade; 149th Annual St. Patrick's Day Banquet of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians of Cleveland

The first thing that we did on the morning of March 17th was to attend a breakfast meeting of the Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce where the speakers were Ms. Jennifer A. Corso, Esquire from Petronzio Schneier Co., LPA who is a specialist in Labor and Employment Law; and our friend Ms. Michelle Tomallo, President of FIT Technologies and Board President of PLEXUS, the LGBT and Allied Chamber of Commerce.

Ms. Corso talked about anticipated legal changes for 2016 regarding FLSA (salary exemption qualifications for Independent Contractors), OSHA (Increase in Penalties), NLRB IMG_9109(Social Media Rules), and the PWFA (Pregnant Workers Fairness Act).

Ms. Tomallo discussed the potentially positive impact on business of last year's landmark U.S. Supreme Court case regarding marriage equality. In the past, different states had a patchwork of different laws but now the Supreme Court decision establishes uniformity. And, of course, the wedding industry gets a new set of clientele.

Ms. Tomallo also discussed the need for Ohio, as well as other states, to enact anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT people in the areas of housing and employment. Certainly, local cities are free to do this , as twelve cities in Ohio have, but there are over seven hundred cities and villages in Ohio so to do it that way would be a long haul.

At the meeting today, we gave our contact information to a man who had just started his own business as a chauffeur. He sometimes has foreign-born clients and recently took a visitor from Ireland on a tour of Cleveland when they discovered that they had time to spare before the next appointment.IMG_9151

We also talked to Ms. Ingrid M. Rodriguez-Reichert who was at the Elite Women Around the World event last week when Ms. Margaret W. Wong received an award. She also appeared on a panel with Ms. Wong at the Union Club two years ago. Ms. Rodriguez-Reichert, herself, immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States about 35 years ago.

We had to leave the Heights-Hillcrest meeting a little early though because it was St. Patrick's Day and we needed to get over to the East Side Irish American Club to catch a ride on Lolly the Trolley to the annual parade downtown just as we had done in 2014 and 2015. Once more our driver was the delightful IMG_9129Ms. Martha Crosniak who is 100% Irish herself but took the Polish surname of her husband upon marriage; even though, according to her, her husband was a blend of Italian and Polish and he related more to the Italians than he did the Polish. And once more, again, we sat near Dr. B.J. Showman, a dentist who has known Ms. Margaret W. Wong for years.

This was Cleveland's 149th parade and this was a particularly important St. Patrick's Day for IMG_9131the Irish community because the Easter Rebellion in Ireland took place exactly 100 years ago in 1916. Very briefly, what happened was that on April 24, 1916 a band of Irish rebels seized Dublin's post office as well as other locations. A proclamation was later read declaring Ireland an independent republic and that a new government had been appointed. Even though an estimated 1,600 people came forward to actively support the insurrection, the British forces soon brought them down but the spirit of the Irish nationalists inspired many to step up and fight for freedom throughout the world.

IMG_9145 The Easter Rebellion was the theme of this year's parade and this was reflected in the prize-winning floats of both the East Side and West Side Irish American Clubs.

Due to the moderate weather, more people came to the parade on this day than we had seen there in the last two years. And this year, we noticed  many more children in the crowd of parade observers than we had seen before. The parade was such a visual experience that it would be difficult to come up with the words that really can describe it but we took a lot of photos that might be a good starting point.

Let us just say that we unless something terrible happens we fully intend to attend the parade next year, hopefully on Lolly the Trolley with Ms. Crosniak driving again and playing CD's of memorable Irish tunes as we took part in this happy, spirited occasion.

The Easter Rebellion came up in several of the speeches at our evening event which was the 149th Annual St. Patrick's Day Banquet of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and the Ladies Ancient OrderIMG_9180 of Hibernians Cleveland.

It took place at the Renaissance downtown and several worthy people received awards including Ms. Teresa Reilly Kowalski (Parade Co-Chair), Mr. John Myers (Parade Co-Chair), Ms. Bridget McIntyre (Irish Mother of the Year), Mr. Jack Coyne (Grand Marshal), and Mr. Joseph Schindly (Hibernian of the Year). Each of them were introduced by either family members or friends and there were loving tributes.

IMG_9178 It was especially moving when Mr. Tom McIntyre talked about how his mother, Ms. Bridget McIntyre, held the family together after his father's untimely, tragic death. Ms. McIntyre took her children to functions that celebrated their heritage and the Irish community was always there to assist them. Mr. McIntyre said it was a beautiful example of how a village came together to raise a child or children.

We also liked hearing about an organization that Mr. Coyne was involved in called "Project Children" which, as the program notes explained, was an "American-Northern Ireland partnership dedicated to showing Protestant and Catholic children that they have nothing to fear from each other and much to gain."IMG_9174

We shared a table with Mr. Jim Kilbane, the Executive Director of the Parade and Ms. Shannon Cochran who will be succeeding him. Sitting next to us was Ms. Maureen Cavanaugh who is the niece of Ms.Sheila Crawford that we know from her work at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Ms. Cavanaugh is a teacher of Irish Dancing at the Murphy Irish Dance Center which Ms. Crawford founded.

And we loved visiting with Ms. Bridie Joyce who was the Irish Mother of the Year last year at the West Side Irish American Club. Ms. Joyce told us about how she immigrated to the United States from Ireland back in 1956. She came via a seven-day journey on a ship traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. We asked IMG_9181her if she liked the movie "Brooklyn" which was about a young Irish woman who immigrated here too in that very same time period. Ms. Joyce loved it and said that it made her cry.

When we told her that we worked for Margaret W. Wong and Associates, Ms. Joyce said that she was familiar with our work and said about immigrants that, "no matter what part of the world that they are from Margaret Wong will try to help."

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.