By Jessica Oates
Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day—or at least that’s how parade organizers hope residents will feel when they gather for the 6th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, hosted by the Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association on March 21.
In a county packed with St. Patrick’s Day parades, the Robbinsville event has been arranged to have a different focus. Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association President Jim O’Donnell said the parade really doesn’t compete with others in the area, since it is smaller and more community-centric.
“It’s all about the children and celebrating them,” O’Donnell said.
This year, the parade will celebrate the Robbinsville 11–12 Little League All Star Softball team who won the World Series in 2014. The parade lineup will also include Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and local sports teams, as well as Irish bands and dancers on floats.
The day begins with 10 a.m. Mass at Saint Gregory the Great Roman Catholic church. The opening ceremony will begin at noon at the Foxmoor Shopping Center, with the signing of The Star Spangled Banner and the Irish National Anthem. Dignitaries participating in the march will be introduced, as well as the parade’s Grand Marshall and Irish Person of the Year.
This year’s Grand Marshall is Chris Ciaccio, a member of the town council. Ciaccio helped develop the idea to host the Robbinsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade for the first time back in 2009, along with O’Donnell and councilman Dave Boyne.
Sue Tonry will represent the Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association as the 2015 Irish Person of the Year. After recovering from leukemia in 2011, Tonry was inspired to create Quilts for Comfort, a non-profit organization dedicated to making quilts for patients with leukemia and other blood cancers. The quilts are meant to inspire love, hope and comfort in each patient who receives one. With the help of friends and community members, Tonry has also organized several blood drives in Robbinsville.
The parade will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will proceed north on Washington Boulevard, turn right onto North Street and then take a right onto Newtown Boulevard. After turning right onto Lake Drive East, it will continue past the lake and the gazebo area, and will then turn left onto Union Street. The parade will continue past the reviewing stand at Union and Burnett Crescent to the back entrance of the parking area behind the businesses on Route 33 in the Robbinsville Town Center. The total distance is approximately 1.25 miles.
The St. Greg’s parking lot will be the best place to park, parade organizers said.
The Irish Heritage Association fundraises for the annual parade throughout the year with Ceilidgh Irish folk dance events held throughout the year, as well as grocery bagging for donations at the local Shop Rite.
The Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association is a volunteer organization designed to foster an understanding and appreciation of Irish cultural values through Irish cultural events and activities in the community.
“The association is designed to be inclusive of everyone, and everyone is welcome to join,” O’Donnell said.
For more information about the association and the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, visit robbinsvilleirish.org/Default.aspx