WEST ORANGE, NJ - To appreciate West Orange history, you need to know up front how much of its roots are decidedly green. There has always been a strong Irish-American presence in West Orange as well as surrounding towns like Verona, the Caldwells and Essex Fells. Multi-generational families still reside in the area, and are part of the fabric of West Orange and surrounding towns that make the township a strong and dynamic community to live in.
The Investiture of the Grand Marshal and three Deputy Marshals for the 63rd Annual West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade took place Sunday at Mayfair Farms. The West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade has become a premier parade in New Jersey. Organizations travel from all over New Jersey to participate in the parade, which grows in scope each year.
The Eamonn Ryan Showband entertained the crowd of several hundred with traditional Irish music. The Investiture began with the Grand March of Past Grand and Deputy Marshals and an Introduction of the 2014 Parade Committee, who were led in by the Essex Shillelagh Pipes and Drums.
The 2014 Grand Marshal and Deputy Marshals then entered the room, filled with family and friends, lots of laughter, and smiling faces.
Monsignor Michael Kelly of Seton Hall Prep, Parade Chaplain, led the Invocation, and the Marshals were led in their respective pledges and introduced by Parade Chairman Joseph Ryan. The Grand Marshal and Deputy Marshals were also presented with their plaques and sashes.
Jere Cole of Rockaway was named the 2014 Grand Marshal. A Vietnam veteran, Cole is a retired Detective for the Essex County Sheriff's Department and currently works at a law firm in Morristown, NJ. The Cole family traces their roots to County Cork, Ireland. Born in Brooklyn, Cole and his family moved to West Caldwell where he resided for many years. He is active in the Democratic party and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Deputy Grand Marshal Gail McGeady traces her roots back to County Cork and Galway. Her great-grandparents settled in Jersey City. Gail recently traveled to Ireland with the renown Women of Irish Heritage Organization. While in Belfast, she had tea with the Mayor and marched in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Navan, northwest of Dublin. Gail works in Wayne for the Passaic County Technical Institute.
Deputy Grand Marshal Kelly Reilly was raised in Montclair. He traces his family roots back to Tullamore, County Offaly. Reilly was Chief of Police of Essex Fells and retired in 2009. He received the Emerald Society's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2008. He is an avid fisherman with the West Orange Anglers Club and an active member of the West Orange Elks.
Deputy Grand Marshal Francis Schott, Jr., traces his roots to County Fermanagh and still maintains ties with family and friends there. In 1992 he opened Stage Left Restaurant and Catherine Lombardi in 2006. Both restaurants are successful and Schott is an expert in food, wine and beverage. He was appointed as Ambassador of the City of Belfast by Lord Mayor Mairtin O Mullleoir in 2013. Schott and his family also have strong ties to the West Orange Irish American Community, being named the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Man of the Year in 2010. The Schott family runs an annual blood drive in memory of Frank Schott, Orange Deputy Fire Chief, at the Shillelagh Club.
Ryan recalled those that had passed away in 2013, and told the crowd that the 2014 parade would be dedicated to the memories of Greg Dillon and Frank Darcy.
All funds raised will go toward parade expenditures. The 63rd Annual West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade will be held on Sunday, March 16, beginning at 12:15 p.m. at Town Hall, 66 Main St. The parade will travel up Main Street to our Lady of Lourdes at the intersection of Main Street and Eagle Rock Avenue.