Deanna Rhodes Norwich’s 2023 Saint Patrick’s Grand Marshal
Deanna Rhodes with husband Michael. photo submitted
“I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread gently, for you are treading on my dreams.” This is a quote from Irish poet WB Yates, but it applies to how this year’s Grand Marshal Deanna Rhodes feels about the city she works for. Deanna has always dedicated her passions to the city of Norwich, making it a better place to live, work and do business, which is exemplified through her volunteering and service to the city outside of work.
Deanna has worked for the City of Norwich for over six years as City Manager for Planning and Neighborhood Services for the City of Norwich. Deanna serves on the boards of both the Connecticut Association of Flood Managers and the Friends of the State Archaeologist. She serves on the Program Committee of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association and was a member of the 2022 Leadership Committee of the Greater Norwich Chamber of Commerce.
In her free time, Deanna enjoys portraying the NorWITCH at community events and is a charter member of the Crow and Cauldron Witch Dancers of Eastern Connecticut. That year she also headlined the inaugural NorWITCH Halloween Strut, held in downtown Norwich.
Deanna feels a strong connection to the Irish community as she is 13% Irish herself. Her godmother, Mary Ellen (Kerrigan) Lizotte, a first-generation Irish American, introduced her to Irish culture at a very young age, which has had a lasting impact on her life. She taught Deanna and her sister Deirdra how to dance Irish tap with her cousins while her husband Bernie played the accordion.
Due to the influence of her Aunt Mary, Deanna’s favorite Irish songs are The Unicorn Song and The Orange and the Green by the Irish Rovers. Deanna’s sister Deirdra is now a Redemptorist living in a convent in Dublin, Ireland. She intends to tour Ireland in 2024 and watch her sister make her first profession.
Her mother’s grandparents married in Occum at St Joseph’s Church in 1906 and lived and worked in the town. Her father’s Leone relatives immigrated to the city from San Donato Val Di Comino, Italy, and are listed on the memorial on the green in front of Norwich Free Academy. Deanna still has numerous distant “Leone” cousins still living in the city and continues to research her family history for further ties to Norwich.
Deanna and her husband Michael have two children, Patrick and Bradleigh. She is a huge New York Jets soccer fan and plans vacations around attending away games with her husband.
You can celebrate Deanna at this year’s gala in support of the Norwich Saint Patrick’s Parade and Festival on February 10th at the Holiday Inn. We will be honoring both Deanna and John Shishmanian, Grand Marshal of Winterfest 2022. Tickets can be purchased from Norwich Events’ website, GoNorwichCt.com.
The Norwich Saint Patrick’s Parade and Festival takes place on March 5th in Norwich city centre. Disembark at 1:00 PM, and there will be celebrations throughout downtown before and after the parade. Visit GoNorwichCT.com and the GoNorwichCT Facebook page for more information.