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Jim Tansey, Grand Marshal of the 2013 Union County St Patrick’s Day Parade, NJ

In Focus: Jim Tansey - Grand Marshal of the 2013 Union County St Patrick’s Day Parade, NJ

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Jim Tansey, Grand Marshal of the 2013 Union County St Patrick’s Day Parade, NJ

Background: Tansey is the grand marshal of 2013 Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New Jersey. “I work at the Union County Prosecutor's Office. I am an assistant prosecutor and the supervisor of the Special Prosecutions Unit at the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. He also owns Responsive Automotive Systems in Springfield.  A bagpiper with the Essex County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, his family comes from Co. Roscommon.

What’s your Irish background?

“I grew up in the Vailsburg section of Newark with my five siblings, Ellen, Patrick, Maureen, Terry, Owen, and my cousin Mary.  My Aunt Aggie also lived with us and was like a third parent.  She was born in Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon. 

“My father's parents were both from Roscommon.  My mother's dad was from Attymas, Co. Mayo. My mother's mom was also from Roscommon.  I have a place in Ballinlough, Roscommon that needs some work but it's a nice feeling just knowing it's there.  My kids grew up going to Roscommon on a regular basis.”

Why do you think of parades such as Hoboken being canceled?

“I think that sometimes people lose sight of the real meaning of St Patrick’s Day.  It is a celebration of the life of the patron saint of Ireland.  The man who brought our faith to our beautiful Island.  The man who used a shamrock to explain the Trinity.  

“I am by no means a prude or someone who doesn't enjoy a good party, but I have witnessed some very bizarre behavior rationalized because it was done on St. Patrick’s Day.  The cancellation of parades such as Hoboken because of the unruly crowds is a shame.  Again, at its root, it is the celebration of the life of St. Patrick.  I encourage everyone to have a blast.  Just remember reason for the celebration.”

Your children will also be marching with you in the parade. Why is it important to you that they celebrate their Irish heritage?

“My kids are the best part of my life.  I have been blessed with three kids than any parent would be proud of.  Bridget is 23 and a recent graduate of Loyola University in Baltimore.  She is currently working at a church running their all the youth programs.  My son Owen is a senior at Governor Livingston in Berkeley Heights.  He a member of the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department and is headed for Loyola in the fall.  My daughter Grace is a sophomore at Mt. St. Mary's Academy in Watchung and one heck of a good cheerleader.  

“My parents raised myself and my siblings in what I call the Irish tradition.  That meant, God came first, family next, and giving back to your country and community was a necessary part of life.  It is important to me that my kids inherit these same Irish values because I know from my life's experiences, that faith in God, love of family and giving back make for a very happy and rewarding existence.  Besides, what's better than being Irish?”

Describe St. Patrick’s Day in three words. 

“Three words, this is a tough one.  Tradition, Family, Friends, Fun.  Okay, that's four!”

The 17th annual Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade will step off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 on Morris Avenue in Union.

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