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Get Your Green On at West Orange’s 70th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Sunday, March 12

The 70th annual West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the preeminent parades in the Garden State, takes place Sunday, March 12




Celebrating its 70th year, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a one of the most popular traditions in Downtown West Orange and one of the preeminent St. Patrick’s Day events in the Garden State. Arguably the best and most celebrated of more than 30 St. Patrick’s Day parades taking place throughout the state, the West Orange parade attracts thousands of onlookers and hundreds of marchers, including Irish American organizations, fraternal, community, and school groups.


Today’s parade has come a long way from its small and understated beginning, when the Irish American Society of the Oranges and the Frank O’Hara Association would march along only half of West Orange’s Main Street stretch, and then catch a bus to join the larger parade in Newark. It wasn’t until 1974 that the parade size and route were expanded to what they are today. Throughout its history, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has reflected the role the Irish American community has played in West Orange and the region, and the official Parade Committee includes many children and grandchildren of its original founders.


The festivities kick off with the traditional morning mass, which organizers point out is something that makes it unique from other parades. This year, the mass will be at 9 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lake, Pleasant Valley Way in Verona, and will be attended by parade honorees and organizations. Immediately after the service, all will gather in Downtown West Orange, joined by thousands of friends, family, and visitors cheering on parade participants.


The parade steps off at 12:15 p.m. from the corners of Mt. Pleasant Avenue and Main Street. The procession will make its way north on Main Street and end at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 1 Eagle Rock Avenue.


This year’s deserving parade honorees include long-time and current West Orange residents Michael “Mike” McCormick, who will serve as the 2023 Grand Marshal, and Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA) Executive Director Meg McNerney Brill, who will serve as one of three Deputy Marshals.


Born and raised in West Orange, Grand Marshal Mike McCormick will be honoring his historic lineage of West Orange McCormicks, which stretches back for 135 years, beginning with Mike’s great-grandfather John McCormick emigrating from French Park, County Roscommon in 1888. John McCormick founded the first police department in West Orange. Mike’s grandfather was also West Orange police officer who upon retirement, worked alongside Thomas Edison. Mike and his wife Karen can always be found supporting and promoting the Irish American community at year-round events in West Orange and throughout the state. Mike is also the vice president of the Michael T. McCormick, Jr. Memorial Foundation – named after his son, Michael Jr., who was suddenly taken from them on his 19th birthday in 2009. The Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of scholarship dollars to assist deserving students in the community. “I am truly honored to serve as Grand Marshal for this commemorative 70th parade,” said Mike.


Megan Brill, who was born Margaret Eileen McNerney, traces her Irish roots back to Dublin, Ireland. Meg’s parents, Howard and Dolores McNerney, bought their family home in the 1950s in the St. Joseph’s neighborhood. She and her husband own Advantage Pest Control, and Meg has served as the Executive Director for the Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA) for the past 10 years.


“The parade, which is what my family has always fondly called it, has been a McNerney tradition as far back as I can remember,” explained Megan. “I’m honored, humbled, and excited to march in this 70th annual event alongside my family, friends, and the other honorees. Thank you to the O’Hara Association for nominating me, and the West Orange parade committee for selecting me.”


Also serving as Deputy Marshals are Michele McCue Shaffer and Rich Hughes, also leaders within their communities and Irish/civic organizations. Michele and her family are long-time attendees and supporters of the parade. Her Irish heritage and roots are on both sides. Her paternal grandparents are from Donegal and Sligo, and her maternal grandparents are from Mayo and Roscommon. Michele’s father was Deputy Grand Marshall of the West Orange Parade in 1994, and her godmother, Ann Cully Malkinski, was Deputy Grand Marshal in 2007.


Deputy Marshal Rich Hughes marched in his first West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1979 as an aide to the Grand Marshal, the late Terry O`Reilly. He joined the Irish American Society of the Oranges at the age of 22 in 1983 and went on to serve as Sargent of Arms, vice president, and president. He has carried their banner with pride in the parade for 40 years.


It is a long-standing tradition for parade honorees to each create a commemorative parade pin that holds personal meaning for them and their families. These pins are worn during the parade and handed out at all festivities leading up to the parade.


Grand Marshal Mike McCormick’s pin pays tribute to the organizations and history that are most dear to his heart and features the Michael T. McCormick (MTM) Memorial Foundation logo as a tribute to his son’s enduring legacy. It also displays the Seton Hall pirate logo, representing the three generations of McCormicks who have attended the university; the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh logo – where two generations of McCormicks have served as active members; and the Rutgers Dental School logo to honor MTM Foundation scholarship recipients who have attended there, and Mike’s daughter, a graduate of the school.


Deputy Marshal Meg McNerney Brill designed her pin to reflect her passions: her role as Executive Director of the DWOA; her dedication to the Downtown (represented by the street sign); her love of her hometown (the town’s green color); and her Irish heritage (the Celtic font). Many who know her, know that Meg’s efforts to maintain and grow a vibrant downtown are tireless, and her standing as a community member is notable and worth recognition.


Deputy Grand Marshal Rich Hughes’ commemorative pin incorporates his important life experiences, including American and Irish flags representing his 40 years of carrying them at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration morning mass and parade for the Irish American Society of the Oranges; and a football field representing friendships forged playing and coaching the sport he loves.


Deputy Grand Marshal Michele McCue Shaffer’s commemorative pin honors her father, Spanky McCue, and his career as an East Orange firefighter with the Maltese cross; and her Irish heritage and deep Catholic faith with a shamrock.


“We are excited to host the 70th year of the West Orange St. Patrick’s Day,” said John McElroy, chairman of the DWOA. “We look forward to the celebration in Downtown West Orange with all the honorees, their families, and attendees.”


For more information about the 70th annual West Orange St. Patrick’s Day parade and ways to support this year’s events, visit


About the Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA)


The Downtown West Orange Alliance (DWOA) is a nonprofit organization that manages the town’s Special Improvement District. The Downtown West Orange Alliance was formed in August 1998 through the ordinance that created the Special Improvement District. Recognizing the unique contributions by the residential, historic, and commercial properties that collectively form our “downtown,” the Township of West Orange created the Special Improvement District to encourage economic revitalization of the neighborhoods of Tory Corner, Eagle Rock, and St. Mark’s, and the Valley.


The Downtown West Orange Alliance has followed the Main Street Four Point Approach™, which is a volunteer-driven, historic preservation-based, economic development program. A nationally successful model for revitalizing downtowns entirely dependent on grants, donations, and volunteer muscle, the Main Street Approach™ stresses historic preservation as the underlying design principle for the revitalization effort. Main Street efforts nationwide aim to maximize the economic potential of each historic commercial district while preserving its authentic character. For West Orange, the volunteer-led teams are critical to the success of the program and involve stakeholders – residents, business owners, and property owners – in making decisions about the future of the Downtown.


More information about the DWOA can be found at or call 973-325-4109.

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