continued “Last year we had about 150 attendees, it was during the week and that may have had something to do with the slight decline, it’s a little tougher for people to get out then. A few years ago we peaked with a membership of about 200,” he continued.
Mark Phillips, historian for the Saratoga chapter, has been a member since 1974 and has many memories of past dinners with relatives and brethren alike. His father, William A. Phillips, was a charter member of the organization and held the title of president in 1969.
“In the beginning, it was mostly people from just Saratoga Springs, but with the more transient society we have now, we have members from near and far. Back in the ‘50s it seemed like Wilton was about the farthest that people would come from. One of our members now is from Ohio,” said Phillips.
Local newsman John Gray spoke a couple of years ago at the annual dinner, and Phillips remembers that as one of the most memorable because of Gray’s message.
“He was really informative and hammered home the facet of family and togetherness. The Irish have a great sense of dedication and tradition, he got that across,” said Phillips.
Phillips’ favorite parts of belonging to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick are the fellowship, strong sense of community, religion and service. He remembers that as a kid, his dad would wear a green carnation boutonniere to the annual dinner, and every year his mom would save the flower and put it in a glass jar.
“When I saw that carnation in the morning, it was a sign that dad must have gotten home from the dinner safe and sound,” Phillips recalls.
“We’re all brothers in the organization. For a couple of years my son went and we’re now on our third generation of members. I’m fortunate tobe a native Saratogian, looking back through so many photographs, it’s nice to see uncles and my godfather,” said Phillips.
This year, the Saratoga chapter expects to meet, and perhaps exceed, the amount of money raised for charities in the past. Once that amount is known, the brothers will be allocating those funds to the various charities.