WEST ORANGE, NJ —
Music filled the air on Sunday, March 12, as the West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade made its way through the township.
“We really lucked out with fantastic weather,” said Jim McNany, president of the Shillelagh Club. “We had rain the day before, a wintery mix the day after, but great weather for the parade.”
The parade started at about 12:15 p.m., beginning at the corner of Mount Pleasant Avenue and Main Street, before making its way north on Main Street to Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
This year’s event celebrated Grand Marshal Michael McCormick and Deputy Grand Marshals Megan McInerney Brill, Richard Hughes, and Michele McCue Shaffer.
Among those participating were the West Orange High School Marching Mountaineers, the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh, the East Ramapo Alumni Marching Band, the Friends of West Orange Library, the West Orange Arts Council, the Police and Fire Emerald Society, the Essex Shillelagh Pipes and Drums, Civil War reenactors, little leaguers, scouts, ethic dancers and the Castlerea Brass and Reed Band, who traveled from County Roscommon, Ireland, to march in the parade.
“There was great turnout along the route,” McNany said. “It’s a great family day. Lots of families there. You see families of three generations, grandparents, parents, kids and there’s great support from the town.”
A crowd estimate was not available but West Orange police said there were no incidents of note and that from their point of view the day went smoothly.
Kevin Brennan, chairman of the parade committee that runs the event, was pleased with the turnout.
“We had our best crowd in years,” Brennan said. “It was great to have a return to normalcy.”
Brennan said he was also pleased with the number of community groups participating, including other ethnic groups like the Bolivian dance troupe that participated.
“Our parade is a story about the immigrant experience and that transcends ethnicity and it speaks to the American experience,” Brennan said. “One of the things we are trying to do is reach out to different immigrant groups and have them share their immigrant experiences.”
Among the unique elements to the event was the reading of a poem at the grandstand where the marchers were announced. Catherine “Cat” Doty was the official poet of the event. She is a poet, cartoonist and educator living in Boonton, and the author of “Wonderama,” which won the 2022 Paterson Poetry Prize.
“It was grand,” said Frank Niccoletti, who was there as both a member of Friends of the Library and the West Orange Arts Council. “It’s nice a lot of people who move out come back for this parade.”
For the 23 people on the parade committee, the event is a 12 month project that culminates in the march.
“We spend a year fundraising, bringing awareness, hosting events, donating to charities in the community and planning,” Brennan said.
One of the pre-parade events is the investiture ceremony for the grand marshal and deputy marshalls. The event was held at The Manor in West Orange, which will close down for good in July.
“Our grand marshal, Mike McCormick, his parents had their wedding reception there and it was one of the first events held there. His swearing in ceremony will be one of the last events. It kind of puts a bow on it.”
After the parade, many of the organizers and marchers end up at the Shillelagh Club on Prospect Avenue.
“It’s great, all the groups wind up there at the end and celebrate together,” Brennan said.