This past flu season has been one of the most awful on record. But there is another bug that has been infecting people as long as anyone can remember – it is called cabin fever! For the past 37 years in the Flint community, the preferred prescription has been a dose of Flint St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The treatments begin with the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ (AOH) pre-St. Patrick’s Day party in mid-February, which then sets the stage for the Flint St. Patrick’s Day festivities on the traditional national holiday of March 17. This year, the specialist assigned to administer all the celebratory cures is Grand Marshal Alex Lee.
Lee is a Davison resident who is the proprietor of ACL Enterprises, a property development company. He joined the Sullivan and O’Sullivan Chapter of the AOH in 2015 after observing all the good work the Hibernians do in the community. Thus, he actively participates in their meetings and events. Lee is well aware of his family’s Irish ancestry because he and Joanne, his spouse of two years, diligently traced his mother’s maiden name of Madden back to Ireland in the County of Galway.
“For our wedding reception,” he recalls, “instead of the traditional table numbering, we had every table labeled after a County in Ireland, with the Madden side of my family sitting at the Galway Table. That happens to be one of the many subtle ways we incorporated our Irish ancestry into our wedding.”
When he was informed in the fall of 2016 he would be the Flint St. Patrick’s Day grand marshal for 2018, he was taken back with humility. “I distinctly remember thinking to myself at the time, while I was incredibly honored to be chosen, I respectfully thought of the past grand marshals of whom all were older and wiser than me. I hoped I would be able to carry on this honored tradition in a way that would make them proud.”
Additionally, and on a more personal note, St. Patrick’s Day happens to be a very special date for Lee. “I met my spouse, Joanne, 10 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day at my family’s bar, Madden’s Lounge! We will definitely be stopping at Madden’s Lounge for a beverage and to celebrate 10 years of us being together.”
Just as it takes more than one general practitioner to address an epidemic, so also a grand marshal needs assistance in spreading blarney merriments, because everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Rallying around Lee this year is the Hibernian queen and her court. Shannon Shaughnessy was crowned Miss Hibernia and is currently attending the University of Michigan, studying psychology. Her court includes Madeline Rasberry, who is currently attending the University of Michigan-Flint, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, while rounding out this prestigious court is Kailyn Alderman, presently a senior at Davison High School and very active in the Davison Marching Band. She is looking forward to studying psychology at Western Michigan University. The Irish Father and Mother of the Year will be announced during the Flint St. Patrick’s Day Mass at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, which begins at 12:02 p.m. (Why 12:02? Because the Irish are always late!)
“I distinctly remember thinking to myself at the time, while I was incredibly honored to be chosen, I respectfully thought of the past grand marshals of whom all were older and wiser than me.” —Alex Lee
Immediately following the Mass is the traditional and ceremonious Irish Family Walk to McFarlan Park on Saginaw Street. From there, it’s over to the grand St. Patrick’s Day Party at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church (706 Beach St.). Don’t forget the St. Patrick’s Day Pot O’ Gold 4-mile run/walk along with the quarter-mile Little Blarney Kids Run. All the road race events kickoff at 1:30 p.m. with a start/finish line at downtown’s Masonic Temple.
Although Lee will be immersed in the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day, he is mindful of his community and is sensitive to our area’s revitalization efforts. “Over the past few years Flint has experienced tremendous challenges,” he says with thought. “And through it all, our local civic, business, educational and philanthropic organizations have managed to successfully continue their efforts to revitalize and reinvent the downtown and neighboring areas. It has been very encouraging to see how this cooperation can bring about positive change even in the face of extreme hardship, and I feel very confident these efforts will continue to drive investment and development going forward.”
To add substance, Alex and Joanne recently purchased property on the Flint River and plan to begin construction on their dream home this spring. “We are very proud to play even a small role in the very bright future of this resilient community.”
“I want to express just how exciting it is to be able to represent my family, my community, and this terrific organization [AOH] on this wonderful holiday. And to do it with my wife on what was already a very special day for us is truly gratifying.”