2012 Honorees

Grand Marshal

The Honorable Laurence M. Bennett

Laurence M.  “Larry” Bennett has been a Harrison resident since 1963. Larry and his family moved from Bergenfield to Harrison when Larry was nine years old. At that time the Bennett family owned and operated the Dairy Delight on Harrison Avenue near the Harrison Little League.  Larry graduated from the Harrison school system and worked for more than 32 years at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, where he served as a supervisor in the Operations Department. Larry has been described as “fixture” in the West Hudson Community where he is active in many church and civic organizations.

Since 2008 Larry has served as a Town Councilman for the 3rd Ward of Harrison. Among Larry’s proudest achievements as a member of the town council is the installation of lighting at the Harrison Little League. Presently Larry serves as the Chairman of the Harrison Recreation Committee and serves on the Department of Public Works Committee. Larry has served as a member of the Harrison Planning Board, the Harrison Housing Authority, and served as chairman of the Harrison Board of Adjustments.

Larry has been a member of the Harrison/East Newark Elks for the past 12 years. For eight years he has served as the Exalted Ruler of Harrison/East Newark Lodge #2326. As a member of the Elks he has served as Chairman of the Thanksgiving Day Meals on Wheels program, which Elks Lodge #2326 has coordinated with Knights of Columbus Council #402 and the Harrison community for the past 17 years.  The Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels program has provided over 1,500 meals to the needy on Thanksgiving Day. Larry has been honored as Elk of the Year for his contributions. Larry is a member and past president of the Harrison Lions Club of Harrison, which provides scholarships to college bound students, eye exams and eyeglasses to the needy, collects used eyeglasses that can be recycled, and has loaned eye readers to the Harrison Public Library and the Harrison Senior Citizen Center. Larry has been honored, by the Lions Club International Foundation, with a Melvin Jones Fellowship in recognition of his humanitarian work.

In 1997 Larry’s son, Larry Jr., suffered an asthma attack and passed away at the age of 18. Many felt that young Larry would have benefited from a paramedic unit nearer to the West Hudson community. Larry Sr., spear-headed a campaign to bring a paramedic unit to West Hudson and in 2000 it was stationed near West Hudson Hospital. In 2001, in recognition of his efforts, Mr. Bennett was awarded the “Fighting the Good Fight” Everyday Hero Award from the Jersey Journal. The “Larry Bennett Jr. Spirit” award is presented each year in the name of Larry Bennett Jr., to a Harrison athlete in recognition of hard work, commitment and perseverance in athletics.

Among his other commitments to the community Larry has served as the chairman of the Harrison/East Newark Drug Awareness and National Night-Out Committee. He has been a member of the Volunteer Harrison Medical Reserve and The Harrison Office of Emergency Management. Larry has represented the Harrison/East Newark Elks to the United Irish Associations of West Hudson, which sponsors the West Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Larry served on the Board of Directors of Pathways to Independence and is a Past President of the Holy Cross Holy Name Society.

Larry has been married to his wife Rosemary (Long) for the past 24 years. Larry and Rosemary have one daughter, Elizabeth; their son Larry Jr is greatly missed. On his selection as Grand Marshal, Larry said “It’s a great Honor. I’m Happy to keep our Irish Heritage going and look forward to continuing the parade in the future.”



Deputy Grand Marshal Michael O’Donnell

Michael O’Donnell is a lifelong West Hudson resident, having previously lived in Harrison before residing in East Newark. Michael graduated from Kearny High School in the class of 1989. Michael’s days are filled by his work, his children’s many activities and volunteering.

For more than 13 years Michael has served his community in the law enforcement field. In 1999 Michael began his service in the New Jersey Department of Corrections, where he was a Correctional Officer at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway. In 2005 Michael transferred employment to the East Newark Police Department. At the East Newark Police Department Michael has served as the D.A.R.E. Officer, where he worked with elementary school children educating them about the dangers of drug use and worked with students to teach good decision making skills to help them avoid high-risk behavior to ensure they grow up healthy, safe and secure. As an East Newark Police Officer, Michael has been twice recognized for his work. He was awarded the Hometown Hero/Police Officer of the Year award from the Harrison/East Newark Elks Lodge #2326 and he was recognized by Chief John Dowie of the Kearny Police Department for his apprehension of armed robbery suspects.

Michael has a long tenure as a volunteer coach and supporter of youth athletics. For the past 16 years he has coached the Junior and Senior levels of Pop Warner Football.  In 2009 and 2010 he coached the  Junior team to the Pop Warner League Superbowl. Michael also serves as the League Representative. In addition to his football coaching work, Michael also coaches Little League baseball. Most recently, he coached his little league baseball team to an undefeated season.

Michael is a member of the Harrison/East Newark Elks Lodge #2326. He can also be found many holidays assisting his father-in-law Terry Gilmore catering the Harrison Senior Citizen’s St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas parties.

Michael is married to Donna (Gilmore) and together they have five children: Christina, Briana, Amber, Michael, and Haley, who range in age from third grade to college. Regarding his selection as the Deputy Grand Marshal Michael said: “Unbelievable! It’s a great honor, growing up in town, to march in this parade.”