NUTLEY, NJ - With about five months to go until the big day, the Nutley Irish American Association announced the dignitaries for the 2020 St. Patrick's Day Parade at a family gathering in the Nutley Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hall.

The 42nd annual parade takes place on March 7, 2020, but events and celebrations, starting with the dignitaries dinner, are already taking place. Later this month, on Oct. 19, Shamrockfest will take place at the Nutley Parks and Rec building on Park Ave. Catered by the Brownstone, that event will be a more formal introduction of the dignitaries, including bagpipes. A Christmas party in town, as well as a formal grand marshal dinner in February, are also scheduled.

In the past year, the Nutley Irish American Association awarded $7,000 in scholarships to Nutley students. According to Nutley Irish president McEnery, this is the most awarded in a single year. The organization also makes donations to organizations in the community including the Nutley Music Boosters, Roscommon House Breast Cancer Walk, the Belleville-Nutley Columbus Day Parade committee, and more.

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McEnery explained that the group attends parades and Irish festivals all over the state during St. Patrick's Day season as well as Irish heritage festivals throughout the year. This sense of family is part of the reason why so many bagpipe groups and organizations request to be a part of Nutley's St. Paddy's Day parade.

That sense of family carries through to the dignitaries as well. Dignitaries from years past are like an extended family, and with the new dignitary announcement, the family will grow once again.

The 2020 Grand Marshal is Karen Smith. Having served as a prosecutor for eight years, and 20 years on the bench in Belleville, Smith also sat at the bench in the Nutley Courtroom as a backup judge. Having retired in June, her service to the community continues with the Nutley Irish. One of the highlights of this year's parade is  that Smith's 90 year old aunt will not only be there to watch the parade, but is expected to be a part of the contingent of dignitaries and their families.

Brian Blum is the Deputy Grand Marshal. A member of the South Park Drums and Pipes band, Blum said he never expected the honor and knows he will never forget it. He shared that he is the descendent of immigrants who moved to the Americas during the great famine in the middle of the 19th Century. Blum is one of eight children in a family of proud Irish Catholics. He grew up as the 6th of eight children, with four sisters and three brothers.

2020 Member of the Year is Dan Kane. Kane said that joining the Nutley Irish was one of the best things he ever did in town. He said he was overwhelmed when he got the news about being the member of the year. "Our footprint, the Nutley Irish, is recognized in the state," he said.

2019 Montclair State graduate Erin Baker is the 2020 Parade Queen. She earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Sports Marketing, and currently works for the New York Jets.  

Police Officer of the year is Robert McDermott who has been a part of the Nutley Police Department for 20 years. McDermott stated that he is looking forward to a good year and all fo the upcoming events. McDermott had to leave the event early to attend to a police matter.

Among the more than 330 members of the Nutley Irish American Association was party crasher seven month old Finley James Rotondo. Finley spend much of the evening in the arms of Grand Marshall Smith, and is expected to join the fun on parade day.

The Nutley St. Patricks Day parade takes place on Saturday March 7 on a route that begins at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church and works its way to the John H. Walker Middle School. It is the townships largest and most attended parade.

TAPinto Nutley will join the parade, as well as have team coverage of the day and events leading up to the parade.

Since 2016, TAPintoNutley.net  has been the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley, and is a member of the New Jersey Press Association. The Nutley Board of Commissioners made TAPintoNutley.net the township's 'Official Electronic News Source' starting in 2019. 

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