LAKE COMO, NJ — There were no lines of fire trucks or floats, or dozens of marching bands or early-bird spectators surrounding Lake Como early this afternoon for the start of the 48th annual Belmar/Lake Como St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Rather, because the coronavirus forced the event's cancellation, some 25 people — parade organizers, past grand marshals and a group of Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh bagpipers and drummers — gathered on the northwestern banks of the lake. From there, they stepped off proudly with a ceremonial procession, which continued for several blocks down Main Street's northbound lane. 

Undoubtedly, the procession was a far cry from the much-celebrated parade that attracts thousands to Belmar and Lake Como each year on the first Sunday of March, but it spoke volumes to the dedication of those involved to carry on a tradition that has spanned nearly five decades.

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They marched for several blocks down Main Street to Bar Anticipation on 16th Avenue, where a sold-out fundraiser was held to support local pipes and drums bands, which have fallen on hard times during the COVID-19 crisis because they have not been able to perform.

The procession and Mass of Thanksgiving held at St. Rose Church on March 6 also honored front-line health care workers and first-responders for their service during the pandemic.