NUTLEY, NJ - The sun was shining on the Irish on Saturday afternoon, March 7. Not a cloud in the sky only a slight breeze in the air for the 42nd annual Nutley St. Patrick’s Day Parade hosted by the Nutley Irish American Association. The parade kicked off from Holy Family Church on Harrison Street and ended at the viewing stands at John H. Walker Middle School.

With Nutley High School Maroon Raider Marching Band, 10 pipe and drum bands participated in the parade. The Essex County Emerald Society Pipes & Drums; Essex County Shilelagh Club Pipes & Drums; St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band; Police Pipes & Drums of Bergen County; Pipes and Drums of the Blue and Gold (NJ State Police); South Park District Pipes & Drums; Rory O'Moore School of Pipes & Drums; Passaic County Police & Fire Pipes & Drums; Union County Emerald Society; and Jersey City Fire Department Pipes & Drums.

The dignitaries were interviewed separately about the parade and their family’ St. Patrick’s Day traditions.

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Grand Marshal — Karen M. Smith

Although I usually worked on my birthday, I always took off for St. Patrick's Day. Usually I would spend the early part of St Patrick's Day in New York watching the big parade and then dinner at our local Irish bar, Michael's Roscommon House. As the Nutley parade, like other NJ parades, is earlier in the month, my family gets to enjoy multiple parades making the celebration more of a season than a day. Irish music, food and stories are great traditions to share with the next generations of my family.

The last time I marched [in a parade] was in 1978 in Washington, DC for the Equal Rights Amendment; so it’s been awhile. I have been a regular spectator of the Nutley parade for years. So to be its grand marshal has been a wonderful experience. The dinners and events leading up to the parade have given me an opportunity to celebrate and get to know my fellow dignitaries, Brian, Dan, Erin and Bob.

My extended family, from one-year-old Finn to 90-year-old Aunt Marion will share the parade experience and create memories for a lifetime. While I have been to Ireland several times, I hope the entire family will be able to return and visit where my dad (Thomas) was born in County Cavan and the beautiful Irish countryside.

Deputy Grand — Marshal Brian Blum

My hometown of Rockaway Beach, New York also has a huge St. Patrick's Day Parade, one of my fondest memories was the first time I marched in it with the Iona College Pipe Band. My dad’s insurance office was along the parade route, and he had a big party there each year. When we turned the corner and I saw a big smile on his face; that will be a moment I never forget. There were 10 people in my house, my parents and eight children. Mom always had a big meal of corned beef and cabbage waiting for us when we got home.

This year has already been so special. Being chosen as a dignitary, has allowed me to witness the hard work that is done all year by the Nutley Irish to fundraise for and plan this parade. The NIAA takes part in events year round like the Relay for Life, and gives scholarships to deserving high school seniors.  Between my college band, and the South Park Pipes and Drums, I've marched in over one hundred parades around the state, but this one will be the best because instead of marching with my drum, I'll be surrounded by my family and closest friends.  It will surely be a day I'll always remember.

Member of the Year — Daniel Kane

What isn’t there to love about the holiday? How I feel is that it’s special to me. Seeing how it strengthens family bonds, friendships, and community involvement means a lot to me. Our favorite tradition for the holiday is to attend the Nutley St Patrick’s Day parade.

Hearing the sirens, bagpipes, and the crowds cheer will make marching in it this so much more exhilarating. The Nutley Irish American Association brings the best of our community together. Being part of that gives me pride knowing that we are making a difference in our community. Seeing all the new families in the area coming together for the parade and creating their traditions.

Parade Queen — Erin Baker

St. Patrick’s Day has always been such a special day for my family. Not only because of our Irish heritage, but because it was also my late grandmother’s birthday on March 17.

Some traditions my family has passed down through the years, is that similar to my dad's wedding ring, I too received the Claddagh ring from my cousin Nicole at my confirmation and I literally have not taken it off since. Another tradition is my mother who makes the best Irish soda bread every year even though she is Italian.

It is such a privilege and an honor to represent not only my family but also Belleville, the town I was born and raised in, and of course being able to represent the Nutley Irish American Association. When it comes to being a part of the Nutley St. Patrick’s Day parade, I am no rookie. Just a short time ago I was walking side by side with my lifelong best friend, the Queen of 2017, Morgan Sim and have been a spectator for many years before that.

Police Officer of the Year—Nutley Police Detective Robert McDermott

To be part of the parade is awesome. I am not in tune with my Irish roots as I should be. Makes you really appreciate where you came from, where your roots are. It was a great day, there were more [spectators] at the parade this year than last.

There is a lot to do that leads up to the parade day but the organization, the Nutley Irish, walk you through it. They are right alongside of you through things. And then, wow, this is it, you’re amped up the night before. Everything they do; it makes you glad to be Irish.

The parade is a lot more personal, being an honoree, you are with your family. You feel a sense of pride.

We always go to the parade but afterwards my mother would always make corned beef.

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