Those minty Shamrock Shakes may come and go, but Celtic culture on the greater Red Bank Green is a year-round affair that traces a path through Irish Tenor concerts and Riverdances; Green Christmases and the appearance of Guinness Oysterfest in September.
That said, the recently minted flagship fleadh of the calendar year has got to be the Rumson St. Patricks Day Parade, the third annual edition of which commences this Sunday.
Former US Ambassador to Germany Philip D. Murphy (left) serves as Grand Marshal, and Fox 5 reporter JoAnn Pileggi returns as emcee, for the event dedicated to the memory of the late Michael J. Larkin (right).
Set to march at 1 pm from Victory Park, the parade boasts “bagpipe bands, floats, marching bands from area high schools, Irish Step Dancers, classic cars and novelty acts — as well as marchers representing veterans groups, scouting organizations, non-profit clubs and organizations, schools, and area business and civic groups.”
It’s a festive procession that’s seriously positioned to benefit a pair of local charities — Jason’s Dreams for Kids, an organization that fulfills the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses through a variety of fundraising events, and Lincroft-based Special People United to Ride (SPUR), a program that brings both riding skills and life skills to young people through therapeutic equestrian sessions with PATH Certified instructors. And, as parade organizers announced back in January, it’s a joyous gathering that’s rooted this year in a sad observance.
The 2015 event is dedicated to the memory of Michael J. Larkin, president of the parade’s Board of Trustees and an instrumental figure in the founding of the community event. The Sea Bright resident passed away suddenly in late December, while preparations were underway for a series of preliminary fundraiser events. In a statement, parade board member Christopher Neary noted that “Mike left us with a very strong framework in which we will continue to build events including and surrounding the Rumson St Patrick Day’s Parade…his contagious passion for promoting Irish heritage will be dearly missed by all.”
Serving as Grand Marshal for 2015 is Rumsonite Philip D. Murphy, a well-known figure in finance and philanthropic circles, and the former United States Ambassador to Germany under President Obama. He joins an elite group of past Grand Marshals that includes Tim McLoone (2013) and Brigadier General Pete Dawkins (2014). Fair Haven resident Jo Ann Pileggi (of NYC’s Fox 5 News) is scheduled to return for a third consecutive year as Master of Ceremonies.
According to press materials furnished by the event’s public relations representative Susan Belfer, “Last year’s parade had more than 900 people representing area businesses and non-profits, scouting organizations, bag pipe bands, high school bands and the armed services walking the green line. Even our four-legged friends (both dogs and horses) turned out to strut their stuff. The Rumson Police estimate that there were more than 7,000 spectators making it a great day not only for the Irish, but a great day for Rumson.”
The parade day will also serve as an opportunity for Red Bank-based nonprofit Lunch Break to continue its ongoing “Go for the Green St. Patrick’s Day Food Drive.” A crew of “Lunch Break Leprechauns” will be present on the parade route, with attendees encouraged to bring donations of nonperishable food items to be collected at Victory Park prior to start time, or at Piping Rock Memorial Park at the conclusion of the processions. Click on the graphic for a detailed list of sought after items for the food drive — and remember that donations can continue to be brought to Lunch Break’s facility at 121 Drs. James Parker Boulevard in Red Bank, through March 17.
Take it here for full details on this years parade, including route description, list of participants and sponsorship information. And of course, paradegoers who just can’t let go are invited to seek some “four leaf closure” on the evening of Tuesday, March 12, when Molly Maguire’s Gastropub hosts “An Armchair Tour of Ireland and Sing-along;” a 7 pm gathering during which attendees are invited to “take a picturesque tour of Ireland, learn about the history and culture of different regions and celebrate each with a sing-along tune from the area being visited.”