Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Happy New Year from Irish New Jersey!

After making it through a tough twelve months we set our sights on a fresh, hopeful new year and a bright and busy St. Patrick’s Season which starts in no time.

Honey Badger and I rang in the Irish New Year (7 p.m. Jersey time) at our local, The Blackthorn. The usual suspects were there…Noonan, Rattigan, Sullivan, Gillespie and the lot.

In the bar, the brilliant Celtic rock band Bloody Callan counted down the seconds until Irish midnight with a live video feed from a wee village in County Kerry where their piper, Bob Wade, was making his usual visit to parts outside Dingle. He was excused from their Jersey gig.

The images from Ireland on the hanging screen weren’t sharp but I swear I saw Bob looking happy and busy with his pipes in the Irish darkness.

The final seconds were shouted out and then we drank our bubbly from the short plastic glasses toasting for good cheer and a fine new year.

Bloody Callan played on after. They are a creative band. I never thought I would hear a cover of Springsteen’s “Sherry Darling” featuring a bagpipe solo where Clarence Clemons’ sax used to be. And it works! But we have to wait for Bob to return stateside to hear it in full glory again.

Visit them at www.reverbnation.com/bloodycallan.

Or come see them play live.

The band of Jersey boys will be some of the entertainment at one of the year’s first Irish events in these parts.

The Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee is hosting its annual Celebrity Bartenders party on Sunday, January 20 at the Kenilworth Veterans Center. The craic begins at one in the afternoon. Five dollars gets you in the door.

There will also be tunes provided by the St. Columcille Pipe Band and Union County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums.

The party will honor John McPartlan of Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Clark, and celebrate the Joseph Nugent Association’s 80th Anniversary.

(Full disclosure: I am on the Union County parade committee and I highly recommend the Celebrity Bartenders. It’s a brilliant Sunday afternoon out!)

Another worthy event isn’t about St. Patrick’s Day but helping Catholic schools in Jersey.

The AOH Division 2 Monmouth County’s annual polar bear plunge will happen at the Sea Bright Municipal Beach on Sunday, January 13 at 1 p.m. For more information about the event please visit www.aohplunge.blogspot.com.

The ocean temperature is supposed to be a lovely 40 degrees to match the air. So, sport your best swim suit and dive in and support a great cause. I’ll be there freezing with Honey Badger.

As one of the first events down on our beaches since Sandy Storm, it is doubly important as we work to restore the Jersey Shore.

Speaking of Sandy, she doesn’t seem to have dampened the Irish spirit along most of our coast.
The hard-hit beach towns of Belmar and Seaside Heights are going forth with their St. Patrick’s parades. So are the Highlands and Atlantic City.

Sadly, for the second year in a row, there will be no Hoboken St. Patrick’s Parade. Like the many Shore towns, the Mile-Square City was solidly smacked by Sandy. The parade would have done the spirits good and helped out the local businesses. Not exactly sure what the reasons are but it’s a shame the city will only see some eejit pub crawl instead of a proper St. Patrick’s celebration.

(More disclosure: I was once on the Hoboken parade committee and miss what was a grand day on Washington Street.)

But we carry on elsewhere and seem to have no shortage of spots to step off.

The Irish Marching Season in the Garden State begins in Nutley on Saturday, March 2 with the first of twenty or so parades in Jersey in honor of Ireland’s patron saint.

Some good details about all marches can be found at st-patricks-day.com once you find the link for New Jersey.

If your organization or parade committee is hosting an event around the Garden State, please let me know. Drop a line to [email protected].

Honey Badger and I will try to stop by for a bit of craic.

Happy St. Patrick’s Season!