In 1974, for the first time, men and women of the Jersey Shore joined together and marched up Main Street in honor of Saint Patrick. Formed and led by the newly formed Jerry Lynch Club, the parade was intended to be a showcase for the “Irish Riviera.” Entertained by marchers, bands, and a lot of fire engines, crowds lined the streets early on in this parade.
Within four years the parade was developing rapidly and attractive statewide attention. Marchers were numbering close to a thousand and the crowds kept growing. By 1981, the railroad added special trains on parade day to accommodate the ever-growing number of spectators from North Jersey and New York.
By 1985, the parade had come into its own and as such, needed its own committee. Led up to this point by members of the Jerry Lynch Club, a committee was formed to deal solely with the job of putting a parade on the street. The executive committee, as it has been since its inception and remains today, is led by chairman, Dave Stanley. The group, at the time, boasts 25 members. The following year, another tradition is born with the investiture Mass at St. Rose R.C. Church and parade spectators neared 80,000!
1992 saw the beautiful St. Patrick parade banner for the first time at the head of the parade. It now leads the parade every year. By 1993, more than 4000 marchers, 35 bands and 20 floats down Main Street. Within 10 years our numbers grew to over 5,500 marchers and more than 40 bands. Roughly 200,000 spectators revel in what the parade had become. Also in 1992, the newly formed Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Jersey Shore joined our parade. Because they were new, they were at the back of the parade. After marching, their fellow Shillelaghs from Old Bridge and Essex, came back and marched with the Jersey Shore Shillelaghs.
In 1999 the newly formed Women of Irish Heritage of the Jersey Shore marched for the first time in the parade and have done so every year since.
In 2004 we said goodbye to our friend Dave Stanley and the parade needed a new Executive Board leader. The parade had grown substantially in size, coordination had become almost a full-time job from December to March. The office had been computerized and staffed several days a week. In an effort to not miss a beat, two new leaders were names as Parade Chairmen, Chip Cavanagh and Bill O’Connell.
2008 Bill O’Connell assumed the position of Treasurer,and Chip Cavanagh as our Chairman and leader.
In 2013 we celebrated our 40th parade and we honored the original parade committee, Ed Hendrickson,Andy Gallagher, Anne Aker, Jerry Lynch, Fran Lynch, Dick McMorrow, Paul Caverly, Jackie Cavanagh, Tim O’Leary, Charlie Sylvester and Dave Stanley.
In 2020 we lost Jerry Lynch and in 2021 Fran Lynch who were on the original committee and put their hearts and souls into this parade.
In 2023 we celebrate our 50th year, our office has been updated with programs that include online registration for participating organizations and other features we couldn’t have contemplated when it all began.
We remain the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the state of New Jersey. The Parade draws thousands of visitors to see the sprawling sea of pipe bands and parade floats. New Jersey transit has even added additional trains to help move the crowds in and out of beautiful Belmar.
What started as a dream and a plan by a young Jerry Lynch Association has become one of the highlights of the Saint Patrick’s Day season and has now transformed into one of the great Irish events of the Saint Patrick’s Day Season!
This year we celebrate another successful year and thank the original parade committee members for their dedication and years of service to the Irish community