The Grand Marshal of the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a dedicated member of the Pittsburgh Irish community, selected by the parade committee, to lead the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
2023 Grand Marshal – Ray Werner
Ray graduated from Duquesne University in 1964 and studied playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. But advertising grabbed him, and he worked as a copywriter/producer and then Creative Director at a major Pittsburgh agency. Later, he started his own ad agency, and after a good run, with an award winning staff, sold it to pursue other writing. In 2002 he was elected to the Pittsburgh Ad Federation Hall of Fame. His business card reads, “Writer, Baker, Music Maker.” His campaign, You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania, was named the best ad campaign in Pittsburgh’s history, by ad executives polled by The Pittsburgh Business Times Journal.
He wrote two songs that were recorded by the late Frank Patterson, one of Ireland’s greatest tenors, including one that became the first corporate campaign for Anheuser-Busch, celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Statue of Liberty.
Ray is one of the original founding members of Pittsburgh’s Traditional Irish Band Hooley, along with Bruce Foley, Richard Withers, Bruce Molyneaux, Oliver Browne and Les Getchell.
His film “Tommy and Me,” directed by Gregory Lehane, was part of the feature film Pittsburgh Neighborhood Narratives, celebrating Pittsburgh’s Renaissance anniversary in 2009. The theme song “Hey, Tommy,” was arranged and recorded by singer/songwriter Mike Gallagher.
His narrative writing has been published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The Tribune Review, The Jewish Chronicle and The Pittsburgh Quarterly.
Ray’s focus for the past dozen years has been playwriting. The 2019 PICT Irish and Classic Theater Premiere of “Run the Rabbit Path” marked 14 plays in 12 productions, most with Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Founding and Producing Artistic Director, Mark Clayton Southers.
Committed to Serving the Homeless People of Pittsburgh
With a lifelong mission to give back to his city, Ray has been a board member of numerous Pittsburgh nonprofits, including The Pittsburgh Public Theater, PICT Irish and Classic Theater, Pittsburgh Symphony, Calliope Folk Music and The Ireland Institute. He chaired the Ann Mullaney Fund to build a school in Ann’s name in Haiti. Ray is currently on the marketing committee of The Heinz History Center and a board member of Move a Mountain Missions and the Advisory Board of Brother Andre’s Cafe.
Due to his position as a board member of Move a Mountain Missions, which supports Brother Andre’s Cafe at Epiphany Church, the special employees of Brother Andre’s Cafe, many of whom are individuals with IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) will be following close behind Ray on parade day. Ray is thrilled to be accompanied by this special group of individuals during such an important and celebratory event.
Ray’s newest musical Shantytown: The Ballad of Fr. James Cox, will be the inaugural production at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater @ Madison, 3401 Milwaukee Street in the Upper Hill, their exciting new theater and permanent home. The opening happens to fall on parade day itself, Saturday, March 11, 2023, for three weekends. For tickets, go to pittsburghplaywrights.org. There is a talkback planned about the homeless to raise awareness for The Red Door that feeds the homeless every day, and also a talkback about anti-semitism, which Fr Cox fought to his dying day.
Because the St. Patrick’s Day Parade ends at The Red Door, who first opened their door in 1929, the same year Shantytown takes place, and still feeds the homeless, there will be an auction after every performance of Shantytown for a gift certificate from merchants in The Strip, with all proceeds benefiting The Red Door. Merchants include Penn Mac, Papa J’s, Bar Marco, Rolands, Coangelo’s The Harp and Fiddle, Penn Ave Fish, Piccolo Forno among others.
A Proud Family Man
Ray is indebted to Susan, his wife of 56 years, and to their 4 children and 7 grandchildren for their never ending love and support, each of them giving back to the community in different ways.
Larkin Werner is Partner and Executive Creative Director of Wall-to-Wall Studios, Brian Werner, CFA CFP, is Chief Investment Officer at Winthrop Partners, Brendan Werner is Associate Producer for Major League Baseball,’s MLB Network and Katie Werner Gosetti is Nursery Supervisor at Maitri Genetics.