Twenty-two years after the first Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade stepped off on Morris Avenue, the tradition continues on Saturday, March 16.

The parade steps off at 1:00 p.m. sharp with thousands of marchers and spectators gathering to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.

This year’s Grand Marshal, Union Catholic High School Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, 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.

“It’s an honor I accept on behalf of my family, the Sisters of Mercy and Union Catholic High School,” Sister Percylee said.

“Thank you to the parade committee for a great day each year for us to celebrate our Irish heritage.”

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Sister Percylee has been the Principal of Union Catholic in Scotch Plains since 1980 where she has been the catalyst for every major advance that the school has made in the past 38 years. She is also a proud supporter of the Union Catholic Irish Vikings Club that has been active with the parade for many years.

The Grand Marshal is a sister of the Irish order of the Sisters of Mercy that was founded in Dublin by Catherine McAuley in 1831. Sister Percylee traces her Irish roots to County Sligo in the West of Ireland.

“We are proud and excited to have Sister Percylee Hart as our 2019 Union County St Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal,” said Parade General Chairperson Jessica Cunningham. “Sister Percylee and Union Catholic have been a tremendous help to the parade over the years.”

The 2019 Union County St. Patrick's Day Parade is dedicated to all of the youth coaches who volunteer to mentor and lead our children.

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Thanks to the efforts of the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee working behind the scenes year-round, 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 in recent years.

According to Parade Adjutant Kerry Ricci, who coordinates parade logistics with the Township of Union, the 2019 Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade will feature high school marching bands from the Township of Union and Roselle Park and the Governor Livingston High School Highlander Band.

The many bagpipe bands marching include the Union County Police & Fire Pipes & Drums and the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band. Also marching in the parade will be Fourth Degree color guards from the Knights of Columbus, non-profit units and local police and fire departments.

A Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Elizabeth at 9 a.m. to begin the day. St. Patrick’s Church is located at 215 Court Street in Elizabeth, NJ 07206. A light breakfast reception after mass will be at BCB bank, located at 2000 Morris Ave in Union.

The family-friendly festivities kick off at 12 noon 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 Avenue and Morris Avenue, proceeding east on Morris Avenue to Union Center and south onto Stuyvesant Avenue, ending at Roosevelt Avenue.

The parade will also feature activities and entertainment presented by the Union Special Improvement District. There will be face painting, walk-around entertainers and activities for the whole family. Kids’ activities and food vendors will be located on the parade route.

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“We thank full-heartily all the sponsors and supporters who help make this parade possible,” Parade General Chairperson Jessica Cunningham added.

The major sponsors of the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade are Metro Living, RD Management, Maser Engineering, Horizon BCBSNJ and BCB Bank, and Union County Freeholders.

Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee is made up of various organizations, including: The John Cryan Association, The Irish-American Society of Union, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Union County, the Joseph Nugent Sr. Association, the Kenilworth Veterans Center/VFW 2230, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians of Elizabeth, Union County Daughters Of Ireland, St. Columcille Pipes & Drums, Knights of Columbus Council 253 in Elizabeth, Union County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums, Knights of Columbus Council 4504 in Union, Molly Maguire’s Pub, Sun Tavern and Dowlings Irish Pub.

For more information about the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade please visit www.unioncountystpatricksdayparade.com.

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Jim Lowney PhotoUnion County St. Patrick’s Day Parade