WEST ORANGE, NJ – Even a week’s delay caused by a massive snowstorm couldn’t dampen the spirits of the large crowd of spectators who cheered on the marchers and bands who participated in West Orange’s 67th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday.
Wending their way up Main Street were more than 25 bands, including marching bands from northern New Jersey high schools and numerous fife/pipe and drum corps from throughout the state.
“It’s a wonderful tradition. We’re a big town, but events like this give us a small-town feel,” said West Orange Township Council President Susan McCartney after completing her march with other council members in front of Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church on Eagle Rock Avenue.
This year’s Grand Marshal, Donald Shauger, Sr., waved all the marchers on toward the end of the parade. In the message he wrote in the parade journal, Shauger focused on the unifying aspect of the parade throughout West Orange.
“The West Orange Parade has always been more than just a parade: it’s a symbol of friendship and unity,” he wrote. “It brings people together in a celebration of faith, community, and Irish traditions, while both reuniting old friends and starting new friendships.”
Deputy Grand Marshals this year were Robert Lynch, Sean McGinley and Brad Squires. The parade was held in memory of The Most Reverend Thomas Boland, Patrick J. Melvin and Brendan Tevlin.
Sheila Roth Parisi, chairwoman of the 2018 parade, noted in her journal message how honored she was to follow a long list of O’Haras who have contributed to the parade’s history and success.
“Each year, on this one Sunday, we are blessed to come together to celebrate our Irish heritage, to honor lasting friendships and to show reverence to those that have gone before us by continuing to honor our faith, our family and tradition,” wrote Parisi, the wife of Mayor Robert Parisi, who marched alongside her.
Assemblyman John McKeon and Maureen O’Hara, the parade’s 2016 grand marshal, served as the announcers for the parade’s online and cable television coverage.
“The members of the parade committee deserve to get accolades,” McKeon said upon concluding their broadcast. “They do a fantastic job of organizing the parade and raising money for it, and they do it all for free as volunteers.”
Shauger lauded the committee in his message.
“Each year, the parade committee never fails to organize an amazing, unforgettable event—one that brings together friends to bond, reminisce, and share in their love of this special tradition,” he said.
Serving on this year’s parade committee were Thomas Brennan, Mary Cassels, Janet Burke, Barbara Hughes, Katie Bogart, Jeff Bogart, Chris Wightman, Joy Ryan, John McKeon, Carol Corcoran, Kevin Brennan, Maureen O’Hara, Joe Brennan, as well as parade trustees Joseph Ryan, Stephanie Gallo, Timothy Quigley, Michael Tevlin and Jere Cole, and parade chaplain Monsignor Michael Kelly.
Along with thanking the committee, Sheila Parisi thanked the Township of West Orange, the West Orange Police and Fire Departments, the Department of Public Works and West Orange High School TV36 for their help.
“The parade is made possible only by their support and assistance, and we are grateful for their friendship and partnership throughout the years,” she wrote in her parade journal message.
According to McKeon, all but one band were still able to make it despite the delay.
“It’s always a lot of fun, and a great celebration of culture,” said McKeon. “It’s great to see everyone turn out, especially the West Orange scouts, public school students and sports teams.”
O’Hara said it was gratifying to see the “wonderful turnout” even though the parade was delayed a week.
Upon concluding his march, councilman Jerry Guarino said, “The parade brings the best out of West Orange. I enjoy seeing everyone come together. It shows how tight a community we are.”