A Vietnam veteran with an entrepreneurial spirit that led him to refurbish and donate more 1,000 wheelchairs to residents living with disabilities will be the Grand Marshal of the 2023 Mystic Irish Parade on March 19.
Phil Pavone, a Mystic resident and owner of AZ Pawn Shop in Norwich, created AZ Pawn Gift of Mobility after watching a man literally crawl up a flight of stairs.
Back in 2009, shortly after watching the disabled man on the stairs, Pavone took in a few power wheelchairs, but they didn’t sell. As the holidays approached that year, he got the idea to donate the chairs. When he saw what it meant to those who benefitted from his generosity, another idea clicked. He would seek out used wheelchairs and power chairs, refurbish them and advertise their availability.
To date, AZ Pawn Gift of Mobility has given away 940 power chairs and 500 wheelchairs, canes, and walkers. Those wishing to donate unused medical items can find out more information at AZ Pawn Gift of Mobility
“Phil’s generosity and compassion make him a great choice for Grand Marshal,” said Neil Ryan, vice president of the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation. “People say it’s an honor to be selected as Grand Marshal, but given what Phil has done for others, it’s really an honor of us to have him lead the 2023 Mystic Irish Parade.”
The Grand Marshal is carefully selected each year by the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation’s Board of Directors. Regardless of their heritage, the primary prerequisite for leading the parade in this role is honoring, supporting, and being a positive, engaged member of the Southeastern Connecticut community.
The annual Mystic Irish Parade has grown to be the region’s largest parade with more than 2,000 participants and 30,000-plus spectators each year. The Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization that raises money to fund local charities.
In addition to organizing a spectacular parade for the community and raising funds for these charitable organizations, the foundation also hosts an annual Irish Dinner and produces and funds the Grand Colleen Scholarship Contest. The Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is dedicated to promoting and sharing their Irish heritage through our website, Facebook page and other events throughout the year.
Mystic Irish Parade Foundation Board Members with Grand Marshal. From left, Tom Taber, Matt Forde, Richard Strickley, Leo Roche, GM Phill Pavone, Jeff Bresnahan, Liz Ryan, Christine Cooney, Kevin Power, Neil Ryan