Surely, the law of averages must be with Mary Waller.
Twice, she was ready to lead the line of march as Grand Marshal of the Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade.
Twice, the pandemic put its foot down.
But organizers believe Irish eyes will be smiling at noon on March 12, 2022, when the parade is scheduled to roll onto South Street in Morristown for the first time since 2019.
“Mary is FINALLY getting her parade in 2022!” parade trustees announced Wednesday.
Nobody is happier about that than Mary Waller.
“I think it’s going to come back stronger,” she said of her beloved parade. “I think the sentiment is, (COVID) will be behind us, and maybe we’ll appreciate life a lot more.”
Waller is a member of the Irish American Association of Northwest Jersey, and serves as the Parade Committee secretary and as a trustee.
“Mary has been a loyal volunteer on various parade committees over the years and her contributions are endless,” the committee stated online.
Waller was named Grand Marshal in 2020. But COVID-19 began making its presence felt that March, and the parade was among the first of many events to be canceled.
Again last year, the Irish American Association of North West Jersey and The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick , organizers of the parade, had no choice but to pull the plug on the extravaganza, which has raised more than $350,000 for charity since its inception in Wharton in 1979.
As the pandemic took hold, the parade committee sent caravans of food to healthcare heroes at Morristown Medical Center.
Waller has not sat idly, either. She will be ready when her big day arrives at last.
On what would have been Parade Day last March, she attended the traditional Mass at Assumption Church in Morristown.
Video: St. Patrick’s Parade test run in April 2021:
And in September, the Jersey City native celebrated “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” at the Dublin Pub in Morristown.
Her clan — five children and 13 grandchildren — once more are preparing to descend on Morristown, from points as far as Texas and the Carolinas.
“They’re really looking forward to getting together and celebrating our Irish heritage,” said Waller, who at 84 keeps in shape with a lots of walking. The Long Valley resident expressed excitement about an offer from John Murphy to make his green fire truck available to her family on parade day.
And Waller is delighted that Amy Quinn, daughter of former Grand Marshal Mike Quinn, will carry on her late father’s tradition of hosting pre-parade entertainment near the Morristown Green.
Also scheduled: Grand Marshals on Tap at Morristown’s Grasshopper Off the Green on Feb. 15, 2022, followed by a Grand Marshal Reception on March 4 at the Madison Hotel in Morris Township.
Traditions are important to Waller, and she considers it an honor to jump-start this one.
“This is too important to let it go. If there’s anyplace we should have a parade, it’s Morristown,” she said.
And a little gaiety is in order, right? It’s been a long, hard pandemic.
“People are anxious to have some enjoyment,” Waller said.
This story has been updated with comments from Mary Waller.