UNION COUNTY — Seventeen years after the first Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade stepped off on Morris Avenue the tradition continues on Saturday, March 15, at 1 p.m. sharp with thousands of marchers and spectators gathering to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.
This year’s Grand Marshal, Robert E. Jeans Sr. of Kenilworth, will lead the march of bagpipe and high school bands, local police and fire department units, veterans groups and many more organizations through the center of Union.
“On parade day I will be celebrating my heritage and my wonderful family,” Jeans said. “It’s a great day for the Irish and Union County.”
Jeans, a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Kenilworth Police Department lieutenant, has been involved with the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade for many years. A member of the Union County Emerald Society and the Nugent Association, he also belongs to several civic and veterans organizations.
He traces his Irish roots back to County Cork.
“The Parade Committee is very proud to have as fine an Irishman as Bobby Jeans leading our parade,” said Kathryn Noonan, General Chairwoman of the 2014 Parade. “We are looking forward to another brilliant parade celebrating St. Patrick and all things Irish.”
This year’s parade is dedicated to all of America’s Prisoner of Wars and those Missing in Action.
The Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade has grown from drawing 10,000 spectators during its inaugural run in 1997 to more than 40,000 on-lookers last year.
In keeping with a parade tradition, the Union County Emerald Society will host officials from Shannon, Ireland. This will be the 18th year Shannon officials will march in the Union County celebration of St. Patrick.
According to Parade Adjutant Bernadette Sullivan, who also coordinates parade logistics with the Township of Union, the 2014 Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade will feature high school marching bands from the Township of Union and Roselle Park and many bagpipe bands including the Union County Police and Fire Pipes & Drums and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band. Also marching will be Fourth Degree color guards from the Knights of Columbus, non-profit units, local police and fire departments and the Garden State Ceili Club float.
A Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Elizabeth at 9 a.m. to begin the day followed by a welcoming reception in the church hall. St. Patrick’s Church is located at 215 Court St. in Elizabeth.
The family-friendly festivities kick off at 11 a.m. at the reviewing stand located at the corner of Morris and Stuyvesant Avenues in Union Center with a warm Irish welcome from parade officials, traditional Irish music and Irish step-dancing. The one-mile parade will begin at 1 p.m. at Commerce Street and Morris Avenue, proceeding east on Morris Avenue to Union Center and south onto Stuyvesant Avenue, ending at Roosevelt Avenue.
New this year, the New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum will be on hand to give visitors the chance to learn more about the influential New Jersey men and women who made invaluable contributions to the state and the world in arts, business, sports, science and business.
The parade will also feature a Kid Zone presented by the Union Special Improvement District.
The Kid Zone will feature inflatable rides, walk-around entertainers and activities for the whole family. Located on Stuyvesant and Morris Avenues, the Kid Zone brings additional amusement for young visitors, as well as the young-at-heart.
For more information about the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade please visit www.unioncountystpatricksdayparade.com.