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.
The St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke will present our 43rd 10k Road Race and the 67th St. Patrick’s Parade during our festive Irish weekend on March 17th and 18th this year. The Committee members have been planning and organizing this year’s annual events celebrating Irish heritage, our city, faith, family, friendship and tradition. The Road Race and Parade are for all those who want to join us in honoring the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick.
The weeks leading to the Parade will have many events celebrating Irish heritage. We appreciate all those who have given us their continued support and all those who might want to experience this fun filled weekend and come out and join us by watching the parade or try running the 10 k Road Race. This race has grown to over 7000 runners since it started in 1976. The race ends in a festive Block Party for 30,000+ spectators, family and friends at the finish line.
The annual Parade has tens of thousands of marchers, 25-30 Floats, 35 to 40 marching bands, and also just to mention 400,000 spectators and 1.2 million+ television viewers. I encourage you to come join us this year to live the experience and feel the excitement that has been around for over six decades in the city of Holyoke. Those statistics give us our bragging rights and are well deserved.
I would like to thank all of our supporters, volunteers, and our sponsors. Year after year, their hard work and generous contributions make these events possible and successful.
I would also like to congratulate all of our 2018 Award Recipients and Colleens who participate each year in the Parade activities. I applaud the City of Holyoke and Mayor Alex Morse, for hosting such a great community event and a special thank you to the Holyoke DPW for their hard work and dedication to keep our events successful.
The St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke is appreciative and grateful to everyone for their help and assistance leading to our festive weekend of events. I hope to see you all during these events this year. Please come join us.
Erin Go Bragh!
2018 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
* Denotes Deceased
President – Timothy O’Grady
Past President – Michael Moriarty
1st Vice President – Devin Sheehan
2nd Vice President – Marc Joyce
Treasurer – Peter Krisak
Financial Secretary – Joseph Morrison
Recording Secretary – Suzanne Poulin
Sergeant at Arms – Tom Griffin
Kathryn Dulchinos (1) 2018
Kimberly Izquierdo (1) 2018 – Vice Chair of the Board of Directors
William Quesnel (1) 2018
Jane Chevalier (2) 2019
DJ O’Connor (2) 2019
Katy Brunelle (2) 2019
Stephanie Joyce (3) 2020 – Chair of the Board of Directors
Jim Wildman (3) 2020
John Beaulieu (3) 2020
(X) Years Remaining on Board of Directors
Ambassador of Ireland Award – Kateri Walsh / Fred Sullivan
Ambassador Award Breakfast – Brynn Feyre
Archives – Ann Lowe
Bishop’s Mass – Tim Burns / Joe Griffin
Budget / Audit – Tim O’Grady / Roger Reidy
By-Laws – Patricia Devine / Kelsey Baran
Colleen Gathering – Kathy Dulchinos / Sheila Fallon
Colleen Pageant – Kathleen Dulchinos / Sheila Fallon
Coronation Ball – Devin Sheehan / Kim Izquierdo
Floats – Bill Quesnel
Golf Tournament – Jamie Farrell
Grand Marshal’s Reception – Stephanie Joyce
Ireland Trip Past Presidents Raffle – John Driscoll
John F. Kennedy Award – Mike Ahern
John F. Kennedy Award Presentation Banquet – Sue Poulin
LRP / Public Relations Planning – Mike Moriarty / Tim O’Grady
Marketing – Sheila Moreau / Jim Leahy
Media Liaison – Hayley Feyre Dunn
Membership – Joe Morrison
Memorial Mass – Barbara LaFlamme
Music / Band Contracts – Jen Morrison / Karen Casey
Parade Co-ordination – Kathy Krisak
Parade Raffle – Kim Izquiedro
Parade Halfway Event – Jim Wildman
Party After the Parade – Katy Brunelle
Past Grand Marshals – Gerry Healy
Program/Souvenir Book – Kathleen Lynch
Reviewing Stand – Sara Mutch / Barbara LaFlamme / Mark O’Brien
Road Race – Brian Donoghue / Jim Wildman
Sashes – Joyce Chretian
Scholarships – Joseph Griffin
Sign Carriers – Cathy McEvady
Tartan – Gerry Healy
Television – Duke Griffin / Tim Burns
Website – Tessa Murphy-Romboletti / Susie Howard