Click PAST Marshals to see the past Grand and Deputy Marshals

Grand Marshal:
Michael B. Ryan

Michael was born in Sacramento California to Irish heritage parents, John Joseph Ryan and Vivian McCarthy-Ryan. Michael, along with his siblings, Sue, Patrick and Mary Catherine were raised in the traditional Irish American Catholic family. Michael attended St. Philomene Grammar School and Christian Brothers High School before graduating from Mira Loma High School. After high school he attended American River College in Sacramento. In 1968 he entered the United States Army. Upon returning home from the Army in 1970 he attended California State University Sacramento.

During college Michael went to work for the State of California Office of State Printing where he became a journeyman bookbinder. It was there that he became involved in the labor movement and politics. Michael started as a union steward and has spent the last fifty years working on behalf of the AFL-CIO in many different positions. During that time period he worked with the Irish labor community to get Irish Americans elected to political office throughout the country.

Michael and his family can trace their roots back to 1824 to his great-great grandfather Patrick Ryan, who was exiled to the “Devil’s Den” in Australia. Michael’s great grandfather William Ryan was born in Australia in 1860 and immigrated to the United States with his family to Sacramento, California. William Ryan later married Kathryn O’Reilly who was born in County Cavan in 1856 and they settled in Sacramento where they had three sons.

Michael’s grandfather John Francis played a significant role in the Ryan family staying grounded with their family roots and was honored as Sacramento County Irishman of the Year for his service to the Irish community. Born of Cavan County parents, John Francis Ryan journeyed back to Ireland to meet with then Lord Mayor of Dublin Robert Briscoe and invited him to come to California to meet with then Governor Goodwin J. Knight. It is through the traditions of his grandfather and father that Michael learned to be active in the Irish American community.   

In 1990 Michael married Marlene Brown, a life-long resident from West Belmar, and he moved to New Jersey. Marlene got Michael involved in local politics, where he first ran for South Belmar Council in 1993.  After serving three terms on the council and many years as Council President, Michael ran for mayor in 2007 and served for two terms, retiring in 2014.

In 2008 Michael became a member of the Belmar – Lake Como Parade Committee and continues to serve today. As an elected official Michael has worked to promote all things Irish, He is a member of the Irish American Democratic Caucus, Irish Trade Unionist, has been honored by the Monmouth County Democrats for his work within the Irish community, and was also honored by the Ocean County Democrats as their St. Patrick’s Day honoree. Michael has been an active member of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Jersey Shore for many years.  He is also a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and an usher at St. Rose Church in Belmar.

Michael continues to be employed by Dimensional Management Corporation as a Senior Account Executive. He is a member of Teamsters–GCIU 612M and is the Secretary Treasurer of the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO which represents 71,000 working men and women in New Jersey.

Deputy Grand Marshal:
Margaret Neafsey

Margaret Neafsey was born in Elizabeth, grew up in Union County, and relocated to the Jersey Shore 35 years ago. Ms. Neafsey. also referred to as “Meg,” is the daughter of the late Edward and Agnes Neafsey.  She remembers her parents as being very proud of their Irish heritage and active in Irish-American civic organizations. Her mother was a member the Women of Irish Heritage; and her father was a member of the Belmar- Lake Como Parade Committee and the Grand Marshal of the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He was also a member of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh – Jersey Shore and the Ancient Order of Hibernians

Meg has 7 siblings (Edward Neafsey of Avon, New Jersey, Alice Sciarrino of Sarasota, Florida, Mary Ellen Mullin of Frisco, Texas, Michael Neafsey of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Agnes Williams of Leonardo, New Jersey, William Neafsey of Brick, New Jersey, and Kathleen Badalis of Linden, New Jersey).  They and her many nieces and nephews treasure their Irish heritage.  Some are annual participants in the Belmar-Lake Como Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

Meg completed her education here in New Jersey. She received a Masters of Business Administration from Georgian Court College in Lakewood, Bachelor of Science from Kean College in Union, and Associates Degree in Business Administration from Union County College in Cranford, all while working. 

Meg’s Irish lineage includes a grandparent who was born in Ireland. Her grandmother, Agnes Murphy, emigrated from Wexford City, Co. Wexford, to the United States around the time of the Easter Rising.  Her family was deeply involved in the newly founded Sinn Fein party in Ireland.  In the United States, her grandmother met and married William Murphy.  Today, Ms. Neafsey remains in contact with her Murphy cousins who reside in Waterford City, Co. Waterford. They are active members of Roanmore GAA. On Meg’s father’s side of the family, her father’s great-grandfather emigrated from Co. Cork around 1860.

Meg retired from American Water in 2015, where she was Vice President of Customer Service from 2008 thru 2015. She was responsible for leading operational strategies for a business unit of over 725 employees, serving nearly 3.5 million customers in 15 states. She held many different positions over the course of her career, and retired with more than 30 year of customer service experience.

Meg currently owns and operates Neafsey Associates, a consulting firm, where she continues to help other organizations deliver and improve their customer service experiences.

Meg believes in giving back to her community, and has served in the following positions:

  • Women of Irish Heritage – Executive Board
  • Union County College Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Past Chair of Leadership New Jersey
  • Past Chair of New Jersey One Call

Meg is looking forward to leading the parade with Grand Marshal Mike Ryan, as she follows in her father’s footsteps.