WEST ORANGE, NJ – Amid bagpipes, fife and drums, marching bands and even South American music, the 65th West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade wound its way through Main Street on March 13.
Grand Marshal Maureen E. O'Hara and Deputy Grand Marshals Brian Aker, Michael Keigher, John McElroy and Tim Sexton walked the route as the music of multiple organizations filled the downtown air.
Each year, the parade is dedicated to Archbishop Thomas A. Boland and the first parade chairman, Patrick Melvin. Larry Lonergan, Esq., president of the Essex Friendly Order of the Shillelaghs, said this year’s parade was especially poignant with the addition of Brendan Tevlin, who was killed in 2014 in town, to that permanent dedication.
“We all honor him. His dad is a past president of the Shillelaghs, and we all knew him personally and all miss him (Brendan Tevlin),” Lonaghan said. “We are very pleased to know the West Orange parade is dedicated in his honor.”
Each year, the parade brings out vintage cars and colorful costumes. The oldest car in this year’s parade came courtesy of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.
Superintendent of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park Tom Ross said, “I think it’s a great day to bring out Thomas Edison’s Model T, which was given to him by Henry Ford, and to show the pride of Edison being such a big part of this community.”
He also joked that the car was going to be put near the rear of the parade “just in case” it broke down and he had to push it back.
Joe Fagan, the unofficial Historian of West Orange, who is the fourth generation of his family to live in West Orange, said family is a core of the parade.
“The parade has always been the story of family, faith and tradition, and in the pre-hours of the parade, you can see that’s apparently obvious, continuing the tradition of coming together,” he said.
“The parade has grown tremendously since it started in 1975 as a walk down Main Street, and continues to grow so much as the official parade of West Orange,” he added.
This year’s parade thrust John Foley into the limelight as a Deputy Grand Marshall, which he said was not his usual role for the event.
“I’ve been the utility guy, hanging the flags along the route for the past twenty years, and being a supporter behind the scenes,” he said. But he couldn’t stop smiling as he added, “It’s a great day with family, friends and Irishmen everywhere.”
Joining Mayor Robert Parisi in the march were numerous town officials, organizations and school groups. Councilwoman Michelle Casalino has been a participant in the parade for many years, but this was her first parade as a council member.
“I’ve been marching since 1995 when my daughter was a Daisy Girl Scout,” she said. “I’ve been marching ever since, and I’m proud and honored to represent the community marching this year as a member of the town council.”
Downtown West Orange Alliance Director Megan Brill said she was thrilled to see the size and scope of this year’s parade.
“It’s the biggest parade we’ve had in years, and we are hoping we have attendance in record numbers,” she said. “It is a great launch to our fabulous season downtown.”
Also featured in this year’s parade were bands, police and fire contingents from surrounding towns as well as Essex County. The Colonial Piper Bagpipe Band traveled from Boston to be a part of this year’s march.
One of the liveliest groups was the colorful marchers that performed a traditional Bolivian dance the entire length of the parade route. Spectators joined in as the dancing went back and forth the entire width of Main Street.
And also joining this year was the West Orange Hispanic Association. Deputy Mayor Rodolfo Rodriguez said of the group’s first parade appearance, “We are so glad to be here and be a part of this great day.”
“Today's parade was a wonderful example of inclusion, as groups from many ethnic backgrounds marched peacefully and joyfully in the West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade,” said Lonergan. “I only wish that our tolerance and respect could be reflected on a national scale, in the face of rancor and discord everywhere else.”
- Click HERE to view more Parade photos taken by Cynthia Cummming.
- Click here to view more Parade photos taken by Buzz1441
- Click here to see more Parade photos taken by Marco Thompson and Bridget Cunningham, who is a WOHS stident participating in a journalism program with TAPinto.net, in the TAP into West Orange Facebook album.