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Eastchester Parade Features Italian Honoree

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Eastchester Irish American Social Club could not be prouder of their honoree Anna Phelan, who will lead Sunday afternoon’s eighth annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, even though she was born in Naples, Italy.

“It was an obvious choice for me,” said club Vice President John Collins. “Anna was one of the first people who welcomed me to the event and she is involved with just about every event and activity we put on.”

Phil Denning said there are few people he would rather accompany down the parade route, which begins at Immaculate Conception Church at 3 p.m. and travels down White Plains Road to a carnival and dinner dance at Lake Isle.

“She is wonderful,” Denning said of Phelan. “I will be proud to walk by her side.”

Phelan, born Anna Ascione in Naples, came to America when she was 5 years old with her parents and brother. The family settled in Brooklyn, living among many immigrants from Italy.

In the early 1980s, Phelan was working in New York City when she met John Phelan at work.

“He was only the second Irish person I ever met,” Phelan said. “But from there out we were a couple.”

The two married and settled in Eastchester and are now the parents of three girls, Katie, Bridget and Maura.

“We had a deal, if they were girls, he got to chose the names, if they were boys, I got to chose the names,” Phelan said with a chuckle. “It’s pretty easy to see who won.”

Phelan said that when she came to Eastchester, the first people she met were members of the social club.

“They were so kind and warm and welcoming to me,” Phelan said. “My husband and I have been active since we joined 15 years ago.”

Phelan said that along with Denning’s late wife, Mary, they ran club dinners that began with barely 100 attendees, and have watched those events grow to 400 attendees.

Phelan added that she sees strong similarities between the Irish and Italian cultures.

“The foundation is pretty much the same, family, faith and hard working people,” Phelan said. “I am proud to be part of both cultures.”

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