Somerville Parade History
The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade on record in Somerville was held in 1984. It began at Duke Island Park and traveled to downtown Somerville. The parade remained like this for several years until the organization could no longer continue. The original parade had co-grand marshals: Tom Lavin, the founder of the local division of the AOH and Msgr. John Torney the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bernardsville.
In 1991 a new committee formed and held its first parade the following year. Its new route began and commenced on Main Street in Somerville, making it much more appealing to both bands and spectators. Over the years, many people have helped coordinate the parade. To view the current parade committee and some significant past contributors click here.
Each year the parade committee elects a person to be the Grand Marshal of the Somerville Saint Patrick’s Parade. This honor is awarded to a member of the community that has had a significant positive social impact on the community as a whole, and who exhibits a good representation of Christian values. To see a list of the distinguished individuals who have been honored click here.
The committee’s most recent chairman Brendan Nally (and 2015 Grand Marshal) took over in 2008 and focused on bringing new members to the committee to produce positive momentum moving forward. We are always in search of enthusiastic hard-working volunteers to serve on the committee or assist with operations on Parade Day.
Currently the parade is co-chaired by Larry Doyle (the parade announcer and long time member) and recently elected, Ken Greig.
In recent years, the parade committee has obtained key corporate sponsors which have allowed our organization to expand the number of paid entertainment participation. In 2010, given the difficulties seen throughout the state at other parades, the Somerville Parade Committee adopted a motto which sums up our expectations for the parade, participants and spectators; The Somerville Parade is a free family friendly event. This motto guides our decisions and allows our sponsors to know that they are participating in something positive for the community. Each year, we strive to improve the parade for our spectators, participants and sponsors.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016, the parade has surged in popularity with attendance jumping from 15,000 to 20,000 to 30,000 in recent years. We credit our success to our parade remaining a family friendly event with a variety of high quality participants. We look forward to another 25+ years of parade excellence in Central Jersey.