Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Maury Power's spirit lives on St. Patrick's Day

One of the people whose memories I will toast St. Patrick's Day is Maury Power.
He was a pub owner in Delray Beach, who passed away in 1996.

When I wrote his obituary for the old Boca Raton News, I included the Irish saying, "May you be in Heaven a full half-hour before the Devil knows you're dead."

Maury Power was the leprechaun in our lives, bringing mirth and good deeds to his community, one I was part of for 19 years before moving to Bradenton.

Power's Lounge is gone now, but Maury's legacy lives on.

It is the St. Patrick's Day Parade down Atlantic Avenue now in its 43rd year.

After Maury moved his family from Chicago, he was vexed there was no celebration on March 17 as was the tradition in the Windy City.

South Florida in 1968? Go figure.

So Maury started his own.

After a few rounds with pals at another establishment, so the legend goes, he rose and when his cronies asked where he was headed, he said, "I need a parade," and off he went.

Strutting down Atlantic Avenue, which you could do in those days in broad daylight, Maury was on his merry way when a patrol car pulled up alongside.

"Maury, what do you think you're doing?" a member of Delray's finest asked him.

"I'm having a parade," he said.

It grew from there and I got to march in it, too.

A bar called Jethro's made me up as the Incredible Hulk -- dark wig, green painted skin, torn shirt and jeans -- and I rode atop their float the first couple of years.

Then the bar closed and I figured the Hulk was history.

Maury had other ideas.

"You march up front with us," he said.

I did that for more than a decade, basking in the glorious limelight that kind hearted man shared with us all.

When we crossed the Intracoastal Waterway drawbridge at the parade's start and you saw 30,000 people jammed along Atlantic Avenue as far as you could see, it took your breath away.

That was Maury's magic.

It still exists.

Not just in Delray Beach, but in my heart.

When I met restaurateur Sean Murphy in 1999, we raised a few glasses one Saturday night and from that came the inspiration for our own St. Patrick's Day Parade on Holmes Beach.

Last Sunday was the 13th annual.

Every year during the parade, which has grown thanks to Sean and
Fred Sullivan, I take a few moments to look back, Irish flag in hand, and marvel at all the bands, banners, balloons and floats and people enjoying this spectacle.

I think of Maury Power.

He'd love it.

I'm proud of that.

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