Morristown parade was extra sweet for Grand Marshal John Hyland, less than year after transplant

Grand Marshal John Hyland and family on the reviewing stand at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove. March 12, 2016
Grand Marshal John Hyland and family on the reviewing stand at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove. March 12, 2016
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On Thursday, John Hyland was at the hospital for his regular round of tests.

“There’s a lot of flu going around,” he remembers his doctor telling him. “It’s best for you to avoid all crowds for the next couple of weeks.”

Hyland said he and his wife Kristin glanced down, shook their heads, and thought: That’s not going to work.

Grand Marshal John Hyland reviews the 2016 parade in Morristown. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Grand Marshal John Hyland reviews the 2016 parade in Morristown. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

On Saturday, Hyland presided as Grand Marshal of the Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade, before huge throngs on a gloriously spring-like day.  Only happiness seemed contagious, and nobody was more ecstatic than the man of the hour.

Last year at this time, Hyland had relinquished the Grand Marshal honor to focus on a bone marrow transplant.  He is battling Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia, a byproduct of the chemotherapy that saved him from Acute Leukemia in 2010.

“Yesterday really was a magical day, for Morristown, for the Irish, and certainly for our family. You couldn’t have wished for a nicer day or a better parade,” said Hyland, 49.

“Looking back on the events of the last year, it couldn’t have been scripted in a nicer way, from where I was a year ago.”

The entire Hyland clan savored the day;  Hyland estimated as many as 50 relatives came, some from as far as Virginia.  His mom, former Morris Township Mayor Kathleen Ginty Hyland–herself a former parade Grand Marshal–was with him on the reviewing stand.

(His late father, former Morris Freeholder Patric Hyland, was a founder and president of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.)

Grand Marshal John Hyland and his wife Kristin lead the Hyland family at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad
Grand Marshal John Hyland and his wife Kristin lead the Hyland family at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad

After marching and reviewing all the floats and bands, Hyland and his wife Kristin followed their two-bagpiper escort team on a whirlwind tour of Morristown pubs, private parties and a celebration at the Irish American Association in Wharton. The couple finally landed at Grasshopper Off the Green around 1 am on Sunday.

GREAT HAT! John Hyland catches up on Morristown Green's parade coverage.
GREAT HAT! John Hyland catches up on Morristown Green’s parade coverage.

By Sunday afternoon, neither Kristin nor Hyland kids Kelsey, 17, Patric, 15, or Kieran, 11, had the energy to pry the sporty Grand Marshal top hat from John Hyland’s head.

“I’m still riding the wave,” he said, despite the family’s exhaustion. “We’re like zombies.”

‘GREAT ENERGY’ AND HOPE

The role of Grand Marshal includes weeks of public appearances preceding the parade.

Hyland said a highlight was the Grand Marshal reception at the Madison Hotel, where some 450 people toasted his health, and he publicly thanked his family for standing by him.

At the parade, he was struck by the crowd’s great energy. “I saw more young kids at that parade than ever before. It was a high-energy day.”

Hyland can use that boost. The former Iron Man triathlete has been in energy conservation mode since his transplant on April 3, 2015. He said he felt better on parade day than he has felt for the last year, but noted he’s still only at about 90 percent of his former vigor.

“It’s going to take a little more time,” said Hyland, who has helped raise more than $1 million for cancer research.

Doctors recently corrected complications

NO WAITING IN LINE when these guys lead the way: Pipers announced the Grand Marshal's arrival everywhere on parade day. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NO WAITING IN LINE when these guys lead the way: Pipers announced the Grand Marshal’s arrival everywhere on parade day. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

involving his adrenal glands, he said. For now, he is limited to light workouts, and looks forward eventually to resuming his duties as managing director of the Private Advisor Group.

Still, the parade excitement is a quantum leap from the anxiety of a year ago, when Hyland said his attention was trained on “my health and survival.”

If there is a takeaway for others facing leukemia, the 2016 Grand Marshal said it is this:

“I think hope is probably the single greatest thing that gets people through these times,  believing that you can get healthy again.

“It really came down to the people around me–my family, my loved ones, all the support and motivation they gave me.  Those are the things that are really important.”

MORE FROM THE 2016 MORRIS COUNTY ST. PATRICK’S PARADE

Grand Marshal John Hyland and family (from left:) sons Patric and Kieran, wife Kristin and daughter Kelsey. Photo courtesy of John Hyland.
Grand Marshal John Hyland and family (from left:) sons Patric and Kieran, wife Kristin and daughter Kelsey. Photo courtesy of John Hyland.
Grand Marshal John Hyland with son Kieran and friend at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Grand Marshal John Hyland with son Kieran and friend at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
The Hyland family was well represented at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad
The Hyland family was well represented at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad
Grand Marshal John Hyland with the state champion Morristown High School hockey team at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Grand Marshal John Hyland with the state champion Morristown High School hockey team at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
STRIKE UP THE BAND: Grand Marshal John Hyland on the float with his Private Advisor Group. Photo courtesy of John Hyland
STRIKE UP THE BAND: Grand Marshal John Hyland on the float with his Private Advisor Group. Photo courtesy of John Hyland
BATTLE OF THE BANDS: MorristownGreen.com presents The Ancient Order of Ukuleleans to the Grand Marshal at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad.
BATTLE OF THE BANDS: MorristownGreen.com presents The Ancient Order of Ukuleleans to the Grand Marshal at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad.
Grand Marshal John Hyland and his wife Kristin take a stroll at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Kevin Coughlin. March 12, 2016
Grand Marshal John Hyland and his wife Kristin take a stroll at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Kevin Coughlin. March 12, 2016
Grand Marshal John Hyland and his wife Kristin at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad, march 12, 2016
Grand Marshal John Hyland and his wife Kristin at the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Berit Ollestad, March 12, 2016
Grand Marshal John Hyland climbs onto the reviewing stand for the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Grand Marshal John Hyland climbs onto the reviewing stand for the 2016 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
 
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