Everett renewed a proud and longtime tradition when elected officials, civic leaders, and residents gathered for a fun-filled night of reminiscing, Irish cheer, light barbs, and community spirit at the 54th “Friendly Son’s of St. Patrick Dinner.”
An overflow crowd packed into Anthony’s of Malden as the “Friendly Son’s” honored Frederick F. Foresteire, who is marking his 25th anniversary as Everett’s Superintendent of Schools. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Everett High School Music Department, which is raising money to send all of its student-musicians to Disney Performing Arts OnStage in Orlando, Florida in June of 2015.
In addition to Superintendent Foresteire, the “Friendly Son’s presented Traditional Sheleighlies to Mayor Carlo DeMaria; former City Councilor Joe King; Leader Herald Publisher Joseph Curnane Jr., whose father founded the “Friendly Son’s” and turned the St. Patrick’s Dinner into a must-attend event for politicians from Everett to Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill; and Philbin Insurance Group President and Owner Andrew T. Philbin, whose father was an original member of the “Friendly Son’s.”
State Senator Sal DiDomenico, Middlesex County Clerk of Courts and Middlesex County District Attorney candidate Michael Sullivan, and numerous Everett City Council and School Committee members were on hand to help mark the occasion. Joining the honorees at the head table were Superintendent Foresteire’s wife, Dorothy, Master of Ceremonies and City Clerk Michael Matarazzo, and Dinner Chairman and City Councilor Joseph McGonagle.
Judging by the turnout on Sunday night, it is a good bet that the “Friendly Son’s” will once again make the St. Patrick’s Dinner an annual tradition, as it was for so many years under the leadership of Joseph Curnane Sr., the legendary publisher of the Leader Herald. So many people attended Sunday’s dinner that a second room, replete with a live video feed of the festivities, had to be used to accommodate all of the attendees.
While the evening featured the kind of soft kidding characteristic of so many St. Patrick’s events, the historic tradition of the “Friendly Son’s of St. Patrick Dinner” was not lost on the honorees. Andrew Philbin and Superintendent Foresteire, both of whom were raised by parents who emigrated from Ireland and made Everett — and America — their homes. Both honorees spoke eloquently and passionately about growing up in Everett, the influence of their parents, and their proud Irish heritage.
“My mother, Catherine Reynolds Foresteire, was born in County Leitrim, and emigrated at age 16,” the Superintendent said. “I am very fortunate to have had the parents I had. They gave me the best of both worlds: Italy and Ireland. And what could be more ‘Everett’ than having a mother and father from different ethnic groups? There are many different strands in the fabric of our great community. That’s what makes it so strong.”
When one highlights the strengths of the Everett Public Schools, music is unquestionably near the top of the list. In introducing the Superintendent, Matarazzo, himself a musician, called the development of Everett’s comprehensive music program one of the defining legacies of Foresteire’s tenure.
During his address, Superintendent Foresteire highlighted the numerous achievements Everett musicians have garnered in recent months and years, as well as the many groups and ensembles the Everett Public Schools offer to students with a wide range of talents
“There’s so much musical talent at Everett High — and our young musicians and singers are so motivated — that the program sometimes strains our resources,” said Superintendent Foresteire. “That’s why I’m so grateful for the help we’re getting tonight from the Friendly Sons.
As he concluded his address, the Superintendent quoted the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, providing a fitting end to a memorable evening: “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”