A sea of green toast Malenda
at West Haven’s 18th St. Patrick’s Day event
Alongside Mayor John M. Picard, Irishwoman of the Year Mary Lyng Malenda pulls off the shroud unveiling the green street sign naming the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall Mary Lyng Malenda Square for the next year at the city’s 18th annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration Tuesday.
Under breezy, blue skies, about 100 green-clad city officials, citizens and descendants of folks from the Emerald Isle joined the midday celebration in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. Each year, the city names a community service-oriented resident Irishman of the Year.
In addition to Picard reading a mayoral proclamation citing Malenda for her exemplary public service, the half-hour ceremony included the hanging of the rectangular sign outside City Hall’s Campbell Avenue entrance naming the square for Malenda until next year’s event, when she will pass her title to a fellow person of Irish descent. Last year’s recipient was Clinton Chief of Police Joseph P. Faughnan Sr.
Malenda – who was joined by several family members, including her husband of 40 years, John, and two daughters – also received a jacket embroidered with her new title: Irishwoman of the Year.
Bagpiper Thomas Dalton led the opening procession, followed by remarks from master of ceremonies David Coyle, chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Committee.
Before an Irish blessing from the Rev. Mark R. Jette of St. Lawrence Church, West Haven High School sophomore Caitlin Morrissey sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Council on the Arts President Paul Scanlon followed with a rendition of “Soldier’s Song,” the Irish national anthem, followed by a greeting from Picard.
Malenda, 59, a first-generation Irish-American, has supported numerous Irish-American cultural events as a member of the city’s Irish-American Club, where she served a stint as president, and St. Patrick’s Day Committee. She is also a member of the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, serving as its 2007 grand marshal, and Milford Irish Historical Society. Malenda has been employed by the state Department of Labor for 21 years. She works as a program and services coordinator in the DOL’s Bridgeport office, where she is responsible for employment and planning and the Welfare to Work program for southwestern Connecticut. Malenda’s father was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland. The longtime Westie traces her maternal lineage to counties Kerry and Clare.
Malenda is active in the community, serving as secretary of the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force and co-chair of the Savin Rock Fireworks Committee. She serves on an advisory committee to the Stratford Board of Education and the Development Committee of the Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport. Malenda grew up in Naugatuck and graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1967, followed by Sacred Heart University four years later. She has lived in West Haven since 1973.
Malenda accepts the city’s Irish-American community honor from Picard, receiving an Irish flag, a jacket and a proclamation.
West Haven High School sophomore Caitlin Morrissey sings “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as Picard looks on.
Malenda walks with New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen Katie Morris during the procession of dignitaries.
The West Haven Police and West Shore Fire Department emerald societies, sporting green berets and sashes, stand at attention.
Council on the Arts President Paul Scanlon belts out “Soldier’s Song.”
Dozens of green-clad well-wishers gather at City Hall Square.
(City Photos/Michael P. Walsh)