2011 Grand Marshal
Our first Grand Marshall is a well-known, much loved longtime Kings Parker Mattie O'Reilly. Mr. O'Reilly, a resident of Kings Park for over 80 years, came to Kings Park when he was 7 years old. He was raised by his Aunt Mary and Uncle Pat King after his mother died in childbirth. Although he and his 6 siblings were cared for by various relatives, they always maintained a strong family bond. As a teenager, Mr. Reilly worked as a page in the Kings Park State Hospital and was later promoted to work on Ward 58, the Veteran's Ward. He, and fellow Kings Parker Frank Foley, enlisted in the Air Force and both proudly served in the Pacific during WWII. Mr. O'Reilly, a member of Company B, worked primarily in New Guinea rebuilding airstrips after attacks. Upon his return, Mr. O'Reilly worked in the Linen Room of KPPC. In his last years at the hospital Mr. O'Reilly was the editor of the Kings Park State Hospital Newsletter. He states that the staff and patients were like a big family to him. He met his wife Helen Dwyer who worked in the Dining Hall, at a local gathering place, The Shamrock Hotel. Helen, who was born and raised in Kings Park, married Mattie and they had one son Mattie, a current resident of ST. James. Mattie Jr. married Kings Parker Inga Crowley and they have a daughter Christine, a freshman at Villanova, and a son Mattie who is a sophomore at Smithtown East HS.
Mr. O'Reilly, who says we live through our memories, remembers Kings Park when it was barren farmland with the State hospital at the center of the newly formed village. He says Kings Park was just like the television show Cheers where everybody knew your name. He said Kings Park retains many of the same qualities that he loved as a young man. He believes Kings Parkers are a different breed because if everybody could work in a State hospital, with all different kind of patients and people, and then go into society, the world would be a nicer place. Mr. O'Reilly has fond memories of summers when he and his friends would hitchhike to Sunken Meadow to swim or go to Terrell's Pond to catch frogs, playing on the freight cars which had delivered coal and other supplies to the hospital, and later going to the Shamrock or Brooklyn Hotel with his coworkers. He said back in the day everyone had a front porch and you could walk down the street, greet neighbors and socialize in a way people don't today. Prior to the Young Brothers selling televisions on Main Street, there were very little distractions for Kings Parkers.
Mr. O'Reilly is a perfect choice for Grand Marshall because he is the epitome of the early Kings Park Irish. Working for $54 a month in the Kings Park State Hospital was not always an easy job but it was one which had a profound effect on those who did it. Mr. O'Reilly, who continues to serve his community through the American Legion, is a grand Kings Park Irishman.