NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Among the giants in the long history of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, few stand taller than James Dinnan.
A teacher by trade, Dinnan was a key organizer of the parade from the late seventies through the turn of the century.
“He was the person who made sure that the parade was protected. It maintained its true roots and its true identity. But yet he was responsible for trying to bring it into its next level of, the next generation,” said Katie O’Keefe Gerhard, Broadcast Color Commentator for the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
In Dinnan’s honor, each year the parade committee selects a winner of the James J. Dinnan Distinguished Service Award, which identifies an outstanding resident of Connecticut who is recognized for unselfish dedication and contributions to fellow Americans.
This year’s winner is WTNH Vice President and General Manager Rich Graziano.
“His vision of the parade that he presented to us of how he could present it, was something beyond our greatest dreams and imagination,” said Bernadette Smyth LaFrance, Executive Chair of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.
The committee cited Graziano’s commitment to the communities he serves, and entrepreneurial approach to develop new partnerships.
“Rich is so deserving of this award because of the support that he gives to the community at large, the entire state of Connecticut, not to mention what he does for the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” said Gerhard.
“This extraordinary, brilliant Italian kid from Boston was going to be the hero of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and take us into this new modern era,” said LaFrance.
“We have an unbelievably talented production team here at News 8, so how we shoot it, how we produce it, the camera angles, the reporters in the field, we really reimagined what the parade could be because it is so important to the community here in Connecticut and New Haven,” said Graziano.
He also expressed his gratitude for receiving the honor. “I am very appreciative and humbled by the award given to me by the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. The James J. Dinnan Award is a true honor. He was a trailblazer for the parade and insured its success and longevity for generations” continued Graziano. “It is wonderful to have such great partners and friends at the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and none of this would be possible without the extraordinarily talented News 8 team.”