West Orange celebrates Irish pride at flag raising, parade postponed

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WEST ORANGE, NJ —Ten days before the town’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade was scheduled for, West Orange residents raised the Irish flag in front of Town Hall and honored the grand marshal and deputy grand marshals of the 2020 parade. In light of COVID-19 concerns, the parade has actually been postponed, with organizers hoping to march in September. Serving as the grand marshal this year is Mellen Dangler, alongside deputy grand marshals John DeMars, Patrick Giblin, Bobby Lamb and Robert Swenson.

“I grew up on the parade route, so I saw how important this parade is to this community,” Mayor Robert Parisi said at the event. “I was not born into an Irish family. But I did the next best thing and married into an Irish family. I realized how important this parade is to the O’Haras and how important the O’Haras are to the parade.”

Parisi recognized West Orange families with Irish ancestry who have made community contributions to the town and state in preserving Irish history, including the Danglers, the O’Haras, the O’Keefes, the Kehoes and the Byrnes.

“You can’t talk about West Orange without talking about the contributions Irish immigrants have made,” Parisi said.

Council President Michelle Casalino and Councilwoman Susan McCartney gave each of the parade leaders a proclamation from the council.

“What’s great is the excitement and the pride you see on that day,” Casalino said at the event. “I want to applaud all of you for all the work you’ve done. Your community work is commendable. You’ve all accomplished a lot, and we’re lucky to have you.”

Parade Chairman Kevin Brennan encouraged residents to get to know the parade leaders.

“If you don’t know these people, get to know them,” he said at the event. “They have done so much for this town and county, and on the state level, in preserving Irish history. There’s no one more deserving.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic