No luck of the Irish for Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade: September do-over is scrapped

WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR! The 2020 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade has been pushed to 2021. Organizers had hoped for a September 2020 do-over, but concerns about the pandemic remain too great. This 2019 parade photo is by Katharine Boyle.


If you’re keeping score at home, it’s Coronavirus 2, Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade, 0.

When Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty cancelled the March 14, 2020, event amid rising concerns about the pandemic, organizers hoped for a do-over in mid-September. On Tuesday night, they thought better of it.

TWO YEARS RUNNING: Mary O’Connor Waller, named Grand Marshal of the 2020 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade, will try again in 2021.

“In light of the continued struggle with the global pandemic there will not be a parade in September as we had hoped,” the Parade Committee posted on Facebook.

“Tonight it was decided the parade will be held on March 13th 2021 and our Grand Marshal will be our standing 2020 Grand Marshal Mary Waller. Congratulations Mary!”

They added: “We hope and pray the world will normalize by March and parade day will happen once again! If you were a 2020 sponsor, you are now a 2021 sponsor. Thank you!”

The parade is a joint production of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Irish American Association of Northwest Jersey.

RIDE 'EM COWGIRL! The 2019 Morris County St. Patrick's Parade. Photo by Katharine Boyle
RIDE ‘EM COWGIRL! The 2019 Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo by Katharine Boyle

Established in Wharton in 1979, the event moved to Morristown in 1991. It draws bands and floats from across New Jersey, and thousands of spectators, and has raised upwards of $350,000 for charity.

Snow forced the parade’s postponement in 1993; gusty winds were to blame in 2010. Both of those parades were rescheduled.

The St. Patrick’s Parade was cancelled ‘out of an abundance of caution.’ But that didn’t stop this after-party in Morristown, March 14, 2020. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

This winter’s cancellation was controversial. Infection rates were rising, the virus had just been declared a pandemic, and health officials were issuing warnings.

But Gov. Phil Murphy had not yet ordered a statewide shutdown, and crowds thronged Morristown bars and private parties on parade day despite the absence of a parade.

As the pandemic surged, organizers focused their efforts on rolling parades — socially distanced caravans delivering food to healthcare workers at Morristown Medical Center.

Pandemic Parade: Emerald Caravan to Morristown Medical Center. Video by Kristen Byrne, April 6, 2020:

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