BENNINGTON >> The Better Bennington Corporation has announced the 2016 St. Patrick's Day parade grand marshal to be retired colonel Joseph L. Krawczyk Jr.
The day begins on March 20 at 10 a.m. at a fundraiser kick-off breakfast at JC's Tavern on Depot Street in North Bennington, followed by the parade at 1 p.m. The new route this year starts behind the Bennington Station Restaurant and goes down to the Main Street four corners at Putnam Square, from there to River Street and then back to Depot Street by 2 p.m.
"I believe that serving your community is a way of life and giving back things that were given to me," Krawczyk said. "Bennington is a great place to grow up. It's an honor to be selected and I hope we have a great day."
There will be live Irish music, bagpipers, a breakfast buffet and raffles at JC's and more entertainment after the parade. The breakfast fundraiser will benefit the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless, according to the BBC.
Krawczyk is a third generation resident who served in the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1970 and was awarded the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, four Bronze Stars for Heroism and Service, and two Purple Hearts for combat wounds. After the service, he returned to Bennington to sit on the Select Board for 12 years as vice chairman and then chairman. He later spent eight years in the state Legislature as vice chairman of the Natural Resource and Energy Committee.
"I've walked in the parade before as a veteran and spoke at the veteran's home at the end," he said. "I've also participated in the Battle Day parade and Memorial Day parade."
Krawczyk acts as the president of the veteran's home board of trustees after being appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2011.
"It's an honor to represent the people of Bennington and those folks who find St. Patrick's Day to be a meaningful holiday."
BBC Executive Director John Shannahan said the parade committee throws around community member names who put service before self-interest.
"They discuss people's background, involvement in local and statewide and benefits they brought to the community," Shannahan said. "He immediately went to the top of the list. He's well known and has an impressive biography."
Last year, Kevin Lynch, co-owner of Kevin's Sports Pub and Restaurant in North Bennington, led the parade because of his donated time to fundraisers and various community activities.
Organizations interested in being a part of the parade should contact the BBC at 802-442-5758.