By John Burton
RUMSON – Bagpipes, shamrocks and emerald green will be in order next March now that a small group of organizers has gotten permission to stage the borough’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The Borough Council has approved a plan to permit a parade in town next March 10, Mayor John Ekdahl said.
“I think it’s a terrific idea,” Ekdahl offered, believing it would be a fun event. “It would be an economic shot in the arm for businesses in town.”
Mike Larkin, a Sea Bright resident and one of the organizers, said he hopes to have numerous pipe and drum and marching bands and floats participate. “I’d like to see the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Little League,” along with area schools and other community groups all involved and marching for what he hopes will the first in a long tradition. “We want to make it a family event,” he said.
The proposed mile-long route would be from the borough’s Victory Park, along River Road and ending in the area of Carton Street, Larkin said.
Larkin had first discussed the idea with Mike and Kathy Maguire, owners of Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn, 132 East River Road, after reading a comment Kathy Maguire had made that she would like to see a St. Patrick’s Day parade here.
Larkin thought it would be a splendid idea and the plans were begun.
Larkin, who works as an event planner and not-for-profit consultant, has already filed the necessary paperwork to establish a corporation to organize and raise money for the parade and accompanying programs, such as possibly readings of Irish literature and introductory Gaelic lessons.
“Obviously, one of the biggest things will be fundraising,” he said.
Larkin estimated the initial event would probably cost between $10,000 and $12,000. He and the group expect to hold a series of fundraisers leading up to the parade and will reach out to prospective sponsors
The key to the parade’s success will be to raise enough money to not only ensure next year’s success but also be well on the way for the following year, he said.
Along with the money there will be a need for volunteers. “There will be a lot of people needed to put this baby out,” he said. He expects the group will be reaching out to the various Irish heritage organizations for support.
Other considerations will be the cost of insurance and police and public works overtime, he said.
The organizers have assured borough officials those costs would be covered, Ekdahl said.
The mayor also noted that there is an ordinance prohibiting public alcohol consumption and it would be strictly enforced during the event.
That’s fine with Larkin.
Mike Maguire, who is assisting with organizing, finds the parade, which would pass right in front of his Irish bar, a natural for the area.
“There is such a rich tradition. If you look at Rumson and Fair Haven, there are so many who are of Irish descent,” he said. “Everyone wants to be Irish at least once a year.”
Maguire’s grandparents immigrated to America from Ireland. He remembers them speaking Gaelic in their home and the stories they told of their life in Ireland. He hopes some of that sense of history can be projected in this event.
“That sense of family and that sense of connection of who you are and where you come from is important,” he said.
Larkin, whose parents hailed from the Emerald Isle, hopes people might take away a little appreciation of the Irish heritage. But, he said, “If they didn’t learn anything at least they had a hell of a good safe time.”