SOMERVILLE, NJ - Police set up barricades to block off sections of Main Street Friday for large-scale snow removal as work crews cleared the sidewalks in time for Sunday’s 27th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Workers from Pave-Rite contractors, equipped with a heavy-duty front end loader, smaller payloaders, dump trucks and shovels worked their way from the west end of Main Street eastward beginning at 7 a.m. and were done by 2:30 p.m., according to Kevin Sluka, borough clerk. The emergency appropriation, approved by Mayor Ellen and Brain and membes of the Borough Council, will cost approximately $13,000, according to Sluka.
"We have to provide safety coverage, making sure that the folks who come into town are safe, that the sidewalks and roads are clear," Sluka said.
The smaller payloaders dug into the banks of snow along the curbside, dragging the snow into the street where it was piled high so that it could be scooped up and loaded into the backs of waiting dump trucks.
Mounded high with snow, the dump trucks drove down South Bridge Street to the borough’s public works yard on Fifth Avenue, where it was dumped in the rear of the property.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is considered one of the largest celebrations of Irish heritage in the Garden State.
The 27th anniversary parade is expected to draw upwards of 15,000-20,000 people. Held on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day each year, the March 11 parade begins at 1:30 p.m. on East Main Street adjacent to the Somerset County Courthouse and heads west down Main Street, concluding two hours later in the vicinity of the plaza where Borough Hall is located at West End Avenue.
There will be floats, pipe & drum marching bands, Irish step dancers, civic organizations, fire companies, youth groups, politicians and all the trimmings, according to Pat Mannion, proprietor of Mannion’ s Irish Pub, 150 W. Main St. and member of the Somerville St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.
The celebration at Mannion’s gets an early start Friday night, with live Irish music and step dancers, and continues through the weekend. It picks up again Thursday, March 15 on through St. Patrick’s Day March 17 and the weekend. Mannion said he has already ordered 1,200 pounds of corned beef and expects a follow-up order.
Stepping out on the parade route will be eight pipe and drum Irish bands and 75 marching units, including the Somerset Police Pipe & Drums; St. Ann’s of Hampton Pipe & Drums, the MacGregor Pipe Band, the Immaculata High School Color Guard and Marching Band, the Somerville High School Marching Band and the Mummers’ Aqua String Band, according to Mannion.
Leading the line of march will be Grand Marshal Finnbar Kirby, the 2018 Hibernian of the Year.