The first parade to honor our Irish heritage was held in 1952 and was the culmination of over a year of planning by members of the Brian Boru club, the Ancient Order of Hibernians with assistance from the members of the Holyoke Police and Fire Departments. Early support was also received from the Holyoke parishes and Catholic schools in the city.
With a modest $200 donation the annual parade has mushroomed into the premier Saint Patrick’s Parade in the Northeast. Coupled with our Saint Patrick Road Race, held annually the day before the parade, it has been determined our organization has an economic impact that is in excess of $20 million according to the study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute,
The city of 45,000 people has welcomed up to 400,000 people for the spectacular parade that showcases prize winning floats, championship bands from the northeast and notable celebrities each year. Musical units include international bands as well as the famed and elaborately costumed Philadelphia Mummers string bands – an annual favorite since 1967.
Beginning in 1955 a Grand Colleen and her court has reigned over the annual parade from a majestic float that carries them along the nearly three mile parade route. Originally selected by popular ballots cast by citizens, five finalists are now selected by judges at a pageant where they compete for the honor, scholarships and a trip to Ireland. The Grand Colleen is chosen during a black tie formal Coronation Ball which is the highpoint of the city’s social calendar.
Leading the parade each year is the Grand Marshal, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a resident of our city or a member of the Committee who is of Irish ancestry. Similarly, the recipient of the annual John F. Kennedy National Award takes a place of honor in the parade. Originally presented in 1958 as the Outstanding American of Irish Descent, it was renamed in 1964 to honor the first recipient, John F. Kennedy who was then a Senator soon to be the President of the United States.
Over the years, such notables as actress Maureen O’Hara, authors, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tom Clancy and David McCullough, astronaut “Cady” Coleman, Tom Ridge, the first director of Homeland Security and Richard Cardinal Cushing have been honored and have joined with us for our annual celebration of Saint Patrick. The list of recipients of the prestigious award has become what is commonly referred to as the “Who’s Who of Irish Americans.”
Since 1959 the Parade has been televised live; first by WWLP, the NBC affiliate for Western Massachusetts and most recently by WGBY – the PBS station that has expanded the broadcast to include live streaming. There is little doubt that the televising of our Parade, almost since its inception, along with the decision by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon to present the John F. Kennedy National Award during a live televised Mass has increased awareness and the stature of our annual Parade, Road Race and all of the events we produce.
Our 10K Road Race has grown from less than two hundred runners in 1976 to become the largest race in Western New England with thousands competing for cash prizes. The early support given by Olympians Bill Rogers, who won the first three races, and Frank Shorter helped to establish this race as a quality event.
Parade day in Holyoke was selected by the Republic of Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States as the day and place to present the Ambassador’s Award. It was established to honor an individual whose efforts promote the relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Ireland. Among the notables who have been to Holyoke for this prestigious honor was the late entertainer, Tommy Makem, Congressman Peter King, Patricia Harty, Editor-in-chief of Irish American magazine and Niall O’Dowd, Publisher, Irish Voice, tenor John McDermott, and actor David Kelly.
What began as a humble celebration so many years ago has grown into a major series of events that culminates with New England’s preeminent Saint Patrick’s celebration. Along with the Mardi Gras, Mount Rushmore, Daytona 500,the Rose Parade and other national treasures, the Holyoke Saint Patrick Parade has been Designated a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress.
Welcome to the website of the St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke. I would invite you to look through our website to learn about our 44th Road Race on March 16th, 2019 and the 68th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17th, 2019. The Committee has been working hard for over a year to plan one of the greatest St. Patrick’s Day Parades in the nation.
We have many events leading up to Parade Weekend and I would encourage you to visit our calendar of events to see what exciting activities are occurring. Our Road Race attracts over 7000 runners with thousands lining the streets to cheer you along. Stay for the excitement after the Road Race with a Homecoming Block party in downtown Holyoke.
Our annual parade brings thousands of marchers, over 25 colorful and exciting floats, marching bands and Colleens from the surrounding communities. We welcome over 400,000 spectators on our streets to see the parade go by with more than 1.2 million people viewing from the comfort of their homes across the world. This year the Parade Committee has partnered with WWLP to be the official media partner of the 68th Annual Parade. We are excited that viewers will be able to see the parade on network TV.
Our Parade and Road Race would not be successful without all of our sponsors. I am especially grateful to our major sponsor Peoples Bank. People’s is a fixture in Western Massachusetts and much like us they were founded on March 17th.
I am also extremely appreciative to the Citizens of Holyoke, Mayor Alex Morse, the Holyoke City Council and School Committee for the support they have provided to the Committee over the years. I also cannot thank enough the hard work of the Holyoke DPW, Police Department, Fire Department, Auxiliary Police, Holyoke Gas and Electric, Holyoke Medical Center, and Massachusetts State Police for everything they do to keep Holyoke safe during our events. We can also count on the women and men of those groups to ensure that Holyoke is always shining.
The St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke thanks you for stopping by to visit our site and I would encourage you to join us in the Paper City this March.
Devin M. Sheehan
2019 Parade President
1952, 1953 William C. Lunney*
1954, 1955 William P. Sullivan*
1956 Jeremiah J. Lawler*
1957 Michael H. Moran*
1958 James F. Millane*
1959 Hon. Michael J. Donohue*
1960 Thomas W. Padden*
1961 William G. Rogers*
1962 Daniel F. Moriarty*
1963 Daniel E. Tierney*
1964 William F. O’Brien*
1965 John J. Dillon*
1966 James E. O’Leary*
1967 Dr. Francis M. Baker*
1968 Timothy J. Sullivan*
1969 Daniel J. Reynolds*
1970 Roger P. Donoghue
1971 Bernard M. Lavelle
1972 Patrick B. Bresnahan, III
1973, 1992 Russell J. McNiff, Sr.
1974 Arthur F. Barrett*
1975 George Counter
1976 Atty. Maurice J. Ferriter
1977 Dr. John E. McHugh*
1978 Roger Breen*
1979 James R. Murphy*
1980 Joseph Paul
1981 Daniel J. McMahon*
1982 James M. Grady*
1983 John T. O’Neill*
1984 Atty. Peter F. Brady
1985 C. Fred Glidden*
1986 Joseph V. Gosselin, Jr.
1987 Alan F. Cathro
1988 David B. Donoghue
1989 Raymond H. Feyre
1990 Atty. Frederick L. Sullivan
1991 James P. Meenaghan
1993 Joseph F. Griffin
1994 David W. Griffin
1995 Atty. John Ferriter
1996 Michael O. Larkin
1997 Lawrence M. Griffin
1998 Jack O’Neill*
1999 Patricia C. Devine
2000 Barry J. Farrell
2001 Mark F. O’Brien
2002 Gerald D. Healy
2003 Roger J. Reidy, Jr.
2004 Kenneth A. Collins
2005 Mark A. Pijar
2006 David J. O’Connor
2007 Kathleen M. Krisak
2008 Brian F. Moriarty
2009 Robert Kane
2010 James M. Leahy
2011 Kathleen M. Lynch
2012 Russell J. McNiff, Jr.
2013 Richard J. Dupuis
2014 Jane C. Chevalier
2015 Jacqueline L. Reardon
2016 Michael T. Ahearn
2017 Michael J. Moriarty
2018 Timothy O’Grady
* Denotes Deceased
President – Devin Sheehan
Past President- – Tim O’Grady
1st Vice President – Marc Joyce
2nd Vice President – Karen Casey
Treasurer – Peter Krisak
Financial Secretary – Joseph Morrison
Recording Secretary – Suzanne Poulin
Sergeant at Arms – Tom Griffin
Jane Chevalier (1) 2019
DJ O’Connor (1) 2019
Katy Brunelle (1) 2019
Stephanie Joyce (2) 2020 – Chair of the Board of Directors
Jim Wildman (2) 2020
John Beaulieu (2) 2020
Susie Howard (3) 2021
Brynn Gillis (3) 2021
Jennifer Morrison (3) 2021
(X) Years Remaining on Board of Directors
Ambassador Breakfast – Jacki Reardon and Kathy McEvady
Ambassador Selection – Kateri Walsh, Fred Sullivan, Mike Moriarty
Archives – Ann Lowe and Abby Scanlon
Awards Dinner – Hayley Dunn and Susie Howard
Bishops Mass – Tim Burns
Budget/Audit – Al Cathro
Bylaws – Kelsey Baran
Colleen Gathering – Karen Casey, Craig Connaughton
Colleen Pageant – Sheila Fallon, Kathy Dulchinos
Coronation Ball – Stephanie Joyce and Christina Reynolds
Floats – Bill Quesnel
Golf Tournament – Mike Ahearn
Grand Marshal’s Reception – Jane Chevalier and Barb Rogers
Half Way Event – Jim Wildman
JFK Dinner – Kelsey Baran and Sue Poulin
Long Range Planning – Mike Moriarty, Marc Joyce, Karen Casey
Marketing – Sheila Moreau, Jim Leahy
Media Liaison – Hayley Dunn and Abby Scanlon
Membership – Joe Morrison
Memorial Mass – John Beaulieu
Music – Brynn Gillis and Kim Izquierdo
Newsletter – Sheila Fallon
Parade Coordination – Kathy Krisak, Jen Morrison
Parade Raffle – Kim Izquierdo, Dave Haslam, Sue Doran
Party After the Parade – Katy Brunelle
Past Presidents Raffle – Jackie Reardon, John Driscoll
Program Book – Steph Joyce, Jane Chevalier, Kathy Lynch
Reviewing Stand – Sara Mutch, Mark O’Brien
Road Race – Brian Donoghue, Jim Wildman, Dave Donaghue
Sashes – Joyce Chretien
Scholarships – Joe Griffen
Sign Carriers – Christina Reynolds, Tom Reynolds
Tartan – Gerry Healy
Television – Dave Griffin, Tim Burns
Website – Susie Howard, Tessa Murphy-Romboletti