EAST HAVE, Conn. (WTNH) — The 2023 Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade queen is a Milford native with big dreams of helping others.

“It was such an unbelievable moment,” said Sierra O’Keefe, crowned queen of the 2023 New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, after previous tries before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third time is the charm! For this 22-year-old, it’s a job worth waiting for.

“Seeing the role models of the women before me really shows me the potential that you have through this role,” she said.

This year, organizers celebrate 65 years of incredible queens with a special marching unit in the parade on Sunday, March 12.

It’s known as a sisterhood.

“Really, any step of the way, anything I need help with, they’re right there behind me, a text or call away,” O’Keefe said.

She went to Assumption College and is now studying to become an optometrist at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

“I always loved science since I was a little kid,” she said, noting that a recent adventure showed her the importance of eye health and giving back.

“I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Peru back in 2019, and I was able to actually provide a pair of glasses to one of the women there,” she said from the Irish-American Community Center in East Haven.

O’Keefe hopes to open her own practice someday and continue focusing on charitable work. This compassion was passed down from family members.

“They got married on March 15, 1997, parade day for New Haven,” she said of her parents, who set the stage with their Irish-themed wedding, complete with shamrocks and bagpipes. “I love to see these pictures. It’s the joy on everyone’s face.”

Joy in heritage, pride in Irish roots.

O’Keefe can’t wait for Parade Day.

“We have so many people within my corner that are coming out for the parade and are excited to celebrate with me,” she said. “I think it’s going to be full of emotions.”

If you can’t make it to the parade, don’t worry! Tune in to live coverage on News 8 and WTNH.com starting at 2 p.m. Sunday.