PATERSON, NJ - The Nutley Irish American Association held their 42nd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal Dinner honoring Chief Judge Karen M. Smith at the Brownstone. Deputy Grand Marshal is Brian Blum of Nutley.

Other parade honorees include Member of the Year recipient Daniel Kane, Parade Queen Erin Baker and Police Officer of the Year Detective Robert McDermott of the Nutley Police Department.

The Rev. Thomas Nicastro of St Mary's Roman Catholic Church, gave the invocation. Also present from St. Mary’s was the Rev. Richard Berbary.

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Gathered in celebration for the 42nd annual parade dinner included Assemblymen Ralph Caputo and Thomas Giblin; Nutley Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli and Nutley Commissioners Mauro G. Tucci, Alphonse Petracco, and Thomas J. Evans; Frank DeMaio and Ken Reilly of the Nutley Board of Education. Also present was NJ State PBA President Patrick Colligan and retired PBA president Tony Weiners, Nutley PBA and Ironbound Irish.

South Park & District Pipes & Drums marched in the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day parade dignitaries playing classic Irish tunes.

Honorees

Grand Marshal — Karen M. Smith

Smith recently retired after 28 years as Belleville’s chief judge and Nutley’s backup. She previously served as prosecutor and assistant township attorney; blood warrant and domestic violence judge and maintained a private law practice serving the Nutley/Belleville communities.

Her father Thomas, was born in County Cavan, Ireland and came to United States through Ellis Island as a child, settling in Newark. Her father was a Marine in the Philippines and shot which awarded him the Purple Heart among many other medals.

Smith’s younger years included the fight for equal rights and equality in sports and marches in Washington; Title IX committees. In 1987, Smith was asked to join a delegation of women trial attorneys to the Soviet Union in advance of the Reagan Summit. That extended assignment included visiting Kiev a year after Chernobyl.

Brian Blum — Deputy Grand Marshal

Blum was born and raised in the Belle Harbor community of Rockaway Beach, New York by his late parents Walter and Graceann (Whelan) Blum, he is the sixth of eight children. His siblings are Suzanne, Elizabeth, Walter, John, James, Claire and Danielle. Brian is uncle to 16 nieces and nephews.  Since 2005, Brian and his wife Melissa have resided in Nutley and have two children, Maggie and Kaitlyn.

The Whelans can trace their roots back to County Waterford. And, along with his Irish ancestry, Blum credits his appreciation for the Irish culture to growing up in Rockaway Beach, often referred to as the “Irish Riviera” due to its large Irish American population. Blum graduated from St. Francis de Sales grammar school, Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School and Iona College. After college, he began working in the financial industry and spent the first 22 years of his career at Morgan Stanley and the past five years employed by the National Futures Association (NFA).

Blum and his family are very involved in town events including the Nutley United Soccer, Nutley’s Relay for Life, the Nutley Education Foundation Color Run and countless Yantacaw School events such as the annual car washes and talent shows. On his free time he enjoys painting including American flag pallets which grace friends’ front yards throughout Nutley. He is an active parishioner of St. Mary's Church where he serves on the Lay Leadership and Oktoberfest committees.

Iona College further strengthened Blum’s appreciation for his Irish ancestry. It was during his time at Iona that he first became involved with a bagpipe band, as a member of the bands color guard. Ironically, one of the first parades that he marched in was the Nutley St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the early 1990s. When he moved to New Jersey years later, an Iona friend and Nutleyite convinced him to join a bagpipe band. Blum has been a drummer with the South Park & District Pipes & Drums Band since 2002.

Daniel Kane — Member of the Year

Kane became a member of the organization in 2006 when he first moved into the community. As a Trustee for the NIAA he organizes, assists, and sits on committees enabling the organization to be successful with its mission in the community. Kane currently resides in Nutley with his wife Colleen and their two daughters Katelyn and Lily.

He volunteers his time at the Nutley Parks and Recreation as a coach for youth softball and soccer. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a member of the Nutley Veterans of Foreign War Post 493. He is currently employed by Verizon NJ as a manager in their business operations office. He was raised in Bloomfield, by his parents Edward and Joyce Kane with his three siblings Edward, Kevin, and Christopher.

Erin Baker — Parade Queen

Baker is 22 years old and was born and raised in Belleville. In 2015, she graduated from Immaculate Conception High School in Lodi where she played basketball and softball for all four years. From 2012 to 2015, Baker was a part of the three time state champion softball team. Upon graduation from ICHS, she attended Montclair State University where she received her bachelors of science degree in business administration with a concentration in sports, events, and tourism marketing in 2019. Baker freelances for Maggie Vision Productions working on the NFL Honors Award Show. She also works part time at MetLife Stadium as a premium services associate, along with season work for the New York Jets organization in their Corporate Partnerships department.

Baker’s great grandfather, William Smith immigrated to America from Belfast, Northern Ireland in the early 1900s. He married Margaret Foley and had two children, including her grandmother, Mary Patricia Smith-Baker. Ironically, Mary was born on March 17 and it always was the biggest celebration for not only her birthday but also St. Patrick’s Day.

Baker is the daughter of Richard and Toni Baker and has an older brother, Kyle. Her family lives in Belleville.

She has volunteered her time with Dentistry from the Heart, a nonprofit organization that provides free dental care to those who cannot afford it.

When attending high school, she visited New Mexico for a mission trip where she volunteered at a food pantry in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During her junior and senior years, her family hosted a foreign exchange student from China. For about five years, she helped at events for Project Children alongside the Sim family.

Robert McDermott — Police Officer of the Year

McDermott was born in Newark in 1969. Shortly after, he moved to Clifton, and then to Nutley at the age of seven. He graduated Nutley High School in 1987 and worked for his uncle installing floors until August of 1998 when he became a corrections officer with the Essex County Department of Corrections and attended the Essex County Police Academy. As a corrections officer, he was a member of the department’s first Street Gang Unit. In July of 2000, McDermott was hired by the Nutley Police Department, attending the Essex County Police Academy for a second time. During his time with the Nutley Police Department, he has served in numerous capacities, as a patrolman in the Patrol Division, a plain clothes officer in the Anti-Crime Unit and a detective in the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

McDermott is currently a detective in the Anti-Crime Unit and serves as a team leader for the department’s Emergency Services Unit. He received numerous department citations and commendations and was loaned out to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, where he was involved in a large prescription medication distribution ring operating in Nutley dubbed Operation Oxymoron. McDermott is also the Sergeant At Arms for the Police Department’s union, PBA local 33, and is one of the founding members of the annual toy drive, which he has been involved with for the past 17 years, collecting and delivering toys dressed as Santa to underprivileged children and families.

He is the father of two daughters, Hailey Noelle and Brianna Lynn.

Nutley’s 42nd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on March 7 along Franklin Avenue. An Investiture Mass kicks off the parade at 10 a.m. at St Mary's Church, 17 Monsignor Owens Place. The parade lineup will begin at noon at the Holy Family Parking Lot and the parade will begin promptly at 1 p.m.

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