Even if you’re not Irish, it’s time to break out the green attire and head out to the nearest parade and celebration in honor of Saint Patrick. Here are four coming up, and you can attend more than one.
1. Woodbridge: On Sunday, March 9, the annual parade kicks off at 1:30pm. It will include Irish pipe bands and step dancers, antique cars, colorful characters, Irish-themed floats, scout troops, fire, first aid, and emergency services, and civic and neighborhood groups. There will be 80 marching units total. The route will start at Woodbridge High School at 1 Samuel Lupo Place, and will enter Freeman Street, proceed to Linden Avenue, to Amboy Avenue (Route 35), and to Main Street where it will end at Woodbridge Town Hall.Those not able to attend the parade can view it on the Woodbridge channels (TV3536) at a later date. The Irish flag will be raised at 9am at Town Hall with a presentation of proclamations to honorees. According to Mayor John McCormac, the celebration brings the town together to “honor and recognize the heritage, culture and contributions of our Irish forefathers who participated in the early settlement and later development of Woodbridge Township.”
2. Union County: The celebration will begin with a mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Elizabeth. There will be a reception afterwards in the church hall. Family entertainment will start at noon at the corner of Morris and Stuyvesant Avenues in Union, and it will include Irish step dancers, bagpipe bands, clowns and face painters, food concessions, a beer garden, vendors and crafts. There will be a :’kidzone” nearby off Stuyvesant Avenue, where there will be rides and activities. The parade will start at 1pm. Units will gather on Morris Avenue along Jeanette and Commerce Avenues. It will head east on Morris, past the Main Reviewing Stand at Caldwell, where announcers will give the history and details of all the participants. It will end at Roosevelt. Organizers say that this parade is the biggest in the state.
3. Morristown: A little history: Gen. George Washington, while encamped in Morristown during the Revolutionary War, issued a proclamation honoring St. Patrick’s Day, because one-quarter of his troops were Irish-born or Irish American. He stated that it was “an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence.” The celebration will be held Saturday, March 15. At 10am, a mass will be held at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Maple Ave. At the Morristown Green at 10:30am there will be entertainment with Irish dancers, harpists, historical re-enactments, and music provided by Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones. The parade will start at noon and will include 20-plus bands, floats, roller derby skaters, fire trucks, dogs, and horses. Launching from the corner of South and James Streets, marchers will head to the Green on South, encircle it, and exit on Washington Street.
The end of the route is Morristown High School in the parking lot on Atno Ave. Organizers predict that 70,000 will be present as spectators or participants. They state it is “the largest family-oriented St.Patrick’s Day Parade in all of New Jersey.”
4. Somerville: A pre-parade show will start at 1pm at the review stand at Main Street and Doughty Avenue, and will feature Irish dancing. The parade kicks off at 1:30pm, starting at Main and Grove Streets and ending at West End and Mountain Avenues. The reviewing stand will be on the south side of Davenport Street. Participants will include bagpipers, school bands, fire and emergency departments, Mummers, marchers from the Somerville Ancient Order of Hibernia, and stilt walkers. Altogether, there will be over 100 groups. 20,000 spectators are expected. Organizers say “it stresses family focus more than any other parade in the state.”
So take your pick: the largest in the state, the largest family-oriented in the state, or the most family-focused parade in the state. Or maybe the one with no such claims. Then again, you can go to two or three.