UNION, NJ – Thousands came out to watch the 22nd Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Union on Saturday as pipe and drum bands, police associations, firemen, civic organization, Irish dancers and hundreds of others marched up Morris Avenue to the sounds of bagpipers and high school bands.
Governor Phil Murphy spent some time on the grandstand before the parade. “It’s a great day to be Irish,” said Murphy. “Everybody’s Irish today.” Murphy said his family hails from County Cork in Ireland. “It’s a great thrill to be back in Union.”
“The folks every single day who in their own quiet way propel the great legacy of Ireland, of the Irish-Americans, are the real heroes in my life,” continued Murphy.
Among the other dignitaries in attendance at the parade this year were U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, State Senators Joseph Cryan and Nicholas Scutari, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Union County Sheriff Pete Corvelli, and Union County Freeholders Bette Jean Kowalski, Mohamed Jalloh, Christopher Hudak, Alexander Mirabella, Angela Garretson and Angel Estrada.
“It’s a little chilly,” said Union County Freeholder Betty Jane Kowalski, “but Irish hearts are warm today.”
“Today is about families, about heritage,” said State Senator Joseph Cryan. Cryan thanked Verizon and all the corporate sponsors of the Union County St. Patrick's Day Parade.
“My pride is over-abundant with all of my family and friends here today,” said parade Grand Marshal John McParland of Scotch Plains. “Today, I really do march in honor of those who have come before me.” McParland spoke about his grandparents, whom he never met, but “who somehow had the courage to send five of their children to the United States. They did it because they knew they’d have a chance – a chance to maybe someday have one of their kids standing up here at a podium honoring them 80 years later.”
The day began with the customary mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Elizabeth. This year Rev. Andrew M. Prachar celebrated mass followed by a reception there and a procession of vehicles to the parade grandstand in Union.
The parade was dedicated to St. Patrick and all of the Saints of Ireland. Catholic schools including Holy Spirit School, St. Michael's, Roselle Catholic and Mother Seton marched and, as usual, a large contingent of state troopers marched with their band, The Blue and Gold Pipe Band, in honor of deceased trooper and Union County resident Thomas Hanratty.
Helping lead the parade were this year’s General Chairwoman Kathleen Holmes, Parade Adjutant Pam Joyce and Division and Assistant Adjutants and parade committee members.
“We always come to this parade,” said Tara Sharpton of Union. “My kids love it and it’s a fun day, even if it’s a little cold.”
Editor's Note: In the interest of transparency, TAPinto Union's franchisee/owner/publisher, Kathy Cryan, is married to
State Senator Joe Cryan.