UNION, NJ -- Twenty years after the first Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade stepped off on Morris Avenue the tradition continues on Saturday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m. sharp with thousands of marchers and spectators gathering to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.
This year’s Grand Marshal, Joe Nolan of Westfield, will lead the march of bagpipe and high school bands, local police and fire department units, veterans groups and many more organizations through the center of Union.
“I am excited to be a part of this parade and all that it stands for year after year. This parade is about tradition and family.” Nolan said. “It’s a great day for the Irish and Union County.”
Nolan, a well-known traffic reporter on radio and TV in the New York metro area since 1979, has been involved with the Union County St. Patrick's Day Parade for several years. He has been tireless in supporting and promoting the Union County St. Patrick's Day Parade, most notably on the "Shannon in the Morning Program" on CBS-FM 101.1 in New York.
“Joe has done so much for both the parade and for the community,” said Parade General Chairman Harry Capko. “We are so proud to have him lead us as this year’s Grand Marshal.”
This year’s parade is dedicated to the Catholic Schools of Union County.
Thanks to the efforts of the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee working behind the scenes year-round, the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade has grown from drawing 10,000 spectators during its inaugural run in 1997 to more than 40,000 on-lookers in recent years.
According to Parade Adjutant Debbie Sully, who also coordinates parade logistics with the Township of Union, the 2017 Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade will feature high school marching bands from the Township of Union and Roselle Park and the Governor Livingston High School Highlander Band. The many bagpipe bands marching include the Union County Police & Fire Pipes & Drums and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band. Also marching will be Fourth Degree color guards from the Knights of Columbus, non-profit units, local police and fire departments and the Garden State Ceili Club float.
A Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Elizabeth at 9 a.m. to begin the day followed by a welcoming reception in the church hall. St. Patrick’s Church is located at 215 Court Street in Elizabeth, NJ 07206.
The family-friendly festivities kick off at 12:00 Noon at the reviewing stand located at the corner of Morris and Stuyvesant Avenues in Union Center with a warm Irish welcome from parade officials, traditional Irish music and Irish step-dancing. The one-mile parade will begin at 1 p.m. at Commerce Avenue and Morris Avenue, proceeding east on Morris Avenue to Union Center and south onto Stuyvesant Avenue, ending at Roosevelt Avenue.
The parade will also feature a Kids Zone presented by the Union Special Improvement District. The Kids Zone will feature inflatable rides, walk-around entertainers and activities for the whole family. Located on Stuyvesant and Morris Avenues, the Kid Zone brings additional amusement for young visitors, as well as the young-at-heart.
The following organizations make up the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee: The John Cryan Association, The Thornsticks, The Irish-American Society of Union, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Union County, the Joseph Nugent Sr. Association, the Kenilworth Veterans Center/VFW 2230, the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Rahway, the Union County Emerald Society, the Sheridan School of Irish Dance, the Union County Irish-American Association, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians of Elizabeth, the Garden State Ceili Club, St. Helen’s R.C. Church in Westfield, St. John the Apostle in Linden, St. Columcille Pipes & Drums, Knights of Columbus Council 253 in Elizabeth, Union County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums, Knights of Columbus Council 4504 in Union, Molly Maguire’s Pub and the Blackthorn Pub.