It’s the kind of tradition that’s become something of a Celtic-cottage industry in itself: an event heralded by a full slate of fundraisers, competitions (essays, posters, soda bread), corned beef ‘n cabbage dinners, Irish seisuns, and even a “green tree lighting” ceremony that would give pause to Mr. Claus. All very appropriate to a ritual that’s been part of the fabric of local life for all of… four years.
Wait, what? While it’s true that the Rumson St. Patricks Day Parade is still in short pants, the annual occurrence has quickly assumed a pivotal place of prominence in community life. And when it returns for a fifth edition this Sunday, it will have cemented its staying power in the hearts of the Greater Red Bank Green, even as those minty Shamrock Shakes come and go.
The flagship fleadh of the calendar year is the climax to a weekend of festivities that commences Friday night with a fifth anniversary celebration at Surf BBQ & Burger. Between 7 and 10 p.m., revelers can enjoy music by John Rafferty and Friends, plus dancing, food and open bar for a per-person price of $100. The evening will also serve as occasion to announce the winners of the Michael J. Larkin Memorial Irish Essay Competition and the Kids Irish Poster Contest, with tickets available via PayPal right here.
Guest of honor at the Friday night event is 2017 parade Grand Marshal Louis “Lee” Carr. The retired financial industry professional joins an elite group of past parade dignitaries that includes Tim McLoone (2013), Brig. Gen. Pete Dawkins (2014), former U.S. Ambassador to Germany/ gubernatorial candidate Philip D. Murphy (2015) and businessman-philanthropist Jack C. Howley (2016).
On Saturday night, the Knights of Columbus – Red Bank Council 3187 hall in Fair Haven will be the scene for a corned beef and cabbage dinner running from 5 to 8 p.m. Irish music and kids’ activities will also be on tap, and donations for the Rumson parade will be taken at the door, during the event for which further information is available by calling (732)747-9199.
Then at 1 p.m. on Sunday, the main event commences from Rumson’s Victory Park, in a burst of sound and motion that promises “music, 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.” At least 10 bagpipe bands are expected to an event that has drawn crowds estimated at 17,000, according to Mayor John Ekdahl.
As with each yearly edition of the parade, the organizers have designated a pair of locally based nonprofits as fundraising beneficiaries. The 2017 grants have been awarded to Horizons National, a program based at Rumson Country Day School that promotes the potential of children from low-income families, and Where Angels Play Foundation, an organization that’s built playgrounds in memory of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings in communities hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.
And, 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 designated locations around the borough of Rumson.
Take it here for full details on this year’s parade, including route description, list of participants and sponsorship information.