A Renaissance woman of public service, the Bayport-Blue Point St. Patrick’s grand marshal of 2023, Constance Haab, has been a part of nearly every civic, government, volunteer, and social group there is in the community.
Haab has spent all her 90 years in Bayport, with her grandfather, a mortgage broker from Brooklyn, being the first generation of her family to move to the area and five of her great-grandchildren attending BBP schools.
“Back in the day, there was no mail service!” said Haab, and described how she had to walk her children daily to the post office to pick up letters and parcels sent to them. This, she cited as her favorite change in her time living in Bayport.
For over 50 years, Haab served as secretary to the Bayport Fire District, and for 40 years worked in full- and part-time capacity for the Town of Islip’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“Larry Gillette, a former commissioner, was my neighbor, and was running for chief. He asked me to vote for him and while I was there, asked if I would like a job,” said Haab of the beginning of a lifetime position with the fire district.
Originally, she was dubious of taking the position, as she did not feel she was well versed in matters of a fire department, but eventually became the first female fire commissioner for Bayport Fire Department, a title she held for 10 years.
Her grandson, Ryan, an ex-chief, served while she was a commissioner, and Haab admits that she may “have been a little harder on him than anyone else” to ensure no nepotism could be found in her purview.
“They were looking for a new commissioner and talking about who should do it or do it again. I was there to take the minutes as a secretary and then someone said, ‘You should do it, Connie! You know everything there is to know about the fire department!’”
The sentiment was similar when Haab was announced as grand marshal for the 2023 BBP Chamber of Commerce St. Patrick’s Parade.
Unknowingly, Haab attended a meeting at the fire department in November at the request of one of the current chiefs, wondering why he was so adamant about her coming.
“Then I saw Seth [Needelman] and Lenore [Prezioso],” said Haab of the two former past presidents of the chamber of commerce. “That’s when I started to wonder what was going on.”
Midway through Needelman’s heartfelt speech, it was announced that Haab would be grand marshal, a fitting title for a lifetime of constancy and dedication to the betterment of her community.
“I’m truly honored and quite surprised!” said Haab.
Recently, Haab was gifted an Irish sweater by a family member, and she has decided on wearing it for her big day as grand marshal.
“One of my granddaughters is married to an Irish husband and he is the most excited person to come to this parade!” said Haab, who said that all her family members are honored for her newest community title.
Details are currently being hammered out, but the fire department is hoping to have a float for Haab’s grandchildren to ride on for the start of the parade.
Haab’s granddaughter-in-law is well versed in parade floats and has been volunteering with the Patchogue-Medford High School floats for years.
“The floats they come up with look like they could be in the Rose Bowl,” said Haab.
Reflecting on her lifetime as a resident of BBP, with homes on Snedecor and Gerritsen (at one point, two homes on one block, with her family’s summer bungalow facing the Great South Bay), Haab said that while the town has certainly gotten more developed and has grown, that she was still proud to have so many of her descendants choosing to raise their families in BBP.