It seems like one of those traditions that’s been a part of community life for generations, but the Rumson St. Patricks Day Parade is but a wee chiseler of just four years of age.
Still, the minty-fresh event has very quickly taken a place of prominence here on the Greater Red Bank Green as a signifier of a year-round local love affair with Celtic culture, even as those Shamrock Shakes may come and go.Following a lead-up punctuated by numerous fundraising receptions, soda bread bake-offs and other advance activities, the flagship fleadh of the calendar year commences once more this Sunday in a burst of sound and motion that promises “music, bagpipe bands, floats, marching bands from area high schools, Irish Step Dancers, classic cars, veteran groups, scouting organizations, non-profit organizations, schools, novelty acts, and area business and civic groups.”
Set to begin at Victory Park at 1 p.m., it’s a festive procession that’s seriously positioned to benefit a pair of local nonprofits — 180 Turning Lives Around (the Hazlet-based organization dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence in the community), and the Community YMCA, whose Monmouth County facilities include the Family Health and Wellness Center on Red Bank’s Maple Avenue.
Serving as Grand Marshal for 2016 is Jack C. Howley, president of Howley Financial Group and a parade committee board member. The Rumson resident (well known as a local volunteer sports coach and host of an annual neighborhood Christmas party/ toy drive, in addition to his involvement with numerous foundations and not-for-profit organizations) joins an elite group of past parade dignitaries that includes Tim McLoone (2013), Brigadier General Pete Dawkins (2014), and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip D. Murphy (2015). Fair Haven resident Jo Ann Pileggi (of NYC’s Fox 5 News) is scheduled to return for a fourth consecutive year as Master of Ceremonies.
According to the event’s press release, “Last year’s parade saw close to 1,000 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 estimated that there were more than 7,000 spectators who made it a great day not only for the Irish, but a great day for Rumson.”
As in years past, 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 additional locations that include Coldwell Banker (17 West River Road), Cups and Cakes (122 East River Road), Heritage House Sotheby’s Realty (23 West River Road), Oceanic Free Library (109 Avenue of Two Rivers), Resources Real Estate (112 East River Road), Rogers Park (Lafayette Street), Rumson Country Day School (35 Bellevue Avenue), Rumson Pharmacy (22 West River Road), and Val’s Tavern (123 East River Road).
Click on the graphic for a detailed list of sought-after items for the food drive — and take it here for full details on this year’s parade, including route description, list of participants and sponsorship information.