By JACQUELINE DURETT
SOUTH AMBOY — The city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is just around the corner.
Parade Chairman and City Council President Mickey Gross said this year’s event, scheduled for March 12, is “expected to be the biggest and best ever.” He said the city is anticipating 25,000 attendees.
“We’re hoping to make South Amboy proud,” he said.
Notable for this year’s event is the return of the Happy Days String Band as one the 23 performing groups.
Gross said Richie Moran, the parade’s grand marshal, and Harold Dennen Jr., deputy grand marshal, have made significant contributions to the city. In his message on the parade’s website, he writes of Moran, “There is no parade without Richie. He has been the backbone of this organization for numerous years and the big toe when needed.”
The honorary grand marshal, meanwhile, is someone who also has a strong humanitarian focus, but lives outside the city. This year’s honoree is Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac.
At the Feb. 17 council meeting, Gerry Ricciardi from Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) presented the council with its annual $500 donation to the parade. These funds are specifically earmarked for the South Amboy High School band, which plays in the parade.
Ricciardi praised the city’s efforts to put on a great event with its parade, saying it’s not just one of the best in the state, but also the country.
“You guys do a terrific job,” he said. “JCP&L is proud to partner with you guys.”
Gross and Mayor Fred Henry thanked Ricciardi for the donation, adding that JCP&L has been there for the city in times of need, particularly in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in 2012.
After the meeting, Cathy Schwartz, secretary of the parade committee, said the parade is an opportunity for families to come out and enjoy the unofficial start of spring.
“It’s just such a wonderful event that brings everybody together,” she said.
She praised Gross’s work on the event. “He’s got the energy, and he knows everybody,” she said.
She said Gross was the one who encouraged her to join the committee, and this is now her third year.
Everyone on the parade committee has a different talent that, when combined, make for a successful event, Schwartz said, adding that she brings her organizational skills to the table.
Last year’s parade went off without a hitch, she said, and one of the only adjustments the committee made was to start the planning process earlier — from November to the summertime.
“It’s a team effort,” she said.
Parade lineup begins on South Pine at noon with marching commencing at 2 p.m. Should there be inclement weather, the parade will be moved to March 19. For information, visit www.southamboyparade.com.