WEST ORNAGE, NJ — A kickoff fundraiser for the West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held on Thursday at the Oak Barrel Pub to signal the start of the parade season leading up to West Orange’s 68th annual event on Sunday, March 10 on Main Street.
Many people from West Orange and surrounding communities gathered in close quarters on Thursday to enjoy light fare and a drink in exchange for providing a $20 donation. All proceeds, including funds raised from raffle tickets sold at $10, will support the 2019 West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The 2019 honorees—including Carol Sharkey Corcoran as the Grand Marshal as well as Carolyn Diver Torchia, Joe Fagan, and Terry McHugh as the Deputy Grand Marshal—were brought in with a grand procession of bagpipers from The South Park & District, a South Orange-based pipes and drum band.
After being introduced by parade chair Sheila Parisi, the honorees thanked their families for their support and the parade committee for selecting them to lead the parade.
Corcoran is currently in charge of public relations connected to the St. Patrick’s Day events, which includes curating the event’s Facebook page. She follows in the footsteps of her mother, who in 1979 became the first female Grand Marshal, and her father, who served as Grand Marshal 20 years later.
Corcoran, who has served on the executive board of Women of Irish Heritage for five years, traces back her Irish heritage to her grandparents. After growing up standing on the sidelines during the parade, Corcoran stated that it is an honor to be a part of the parade this year.
Fagan, West Orange’s township historian and the author of four books based on West Orange history, is a fifth generation Irish American. He spoke about his four-times great-grandmother’s shillelagh, an Irish family heirloom that she used as a walking stick in the 1920’s while walking on Main Street. Fagan vowed to bring the shillelagh back to Main Street on the day of the parade.
McHugh currently serves at the vice president of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians (AOH) and is the 13th member of the McHugh family to be honored by the AOH for this position. When given the chance to speak, he said that he was “looking forward to a tremendous parade season.”
Photos were provided courtesy of Deborah Balthazar and Robert Parisi, Jr., who is the son of Mayor Robert Parisi and event chair Sheila Parisi. Click HERE to see photos of last year’s event, courtesy of Robert Swenson.