2016 W.H. St. Patrick’s Day Parade didn’t disappoint

Kevin Quinn, c., president of the United Irish Associations of West Hudson
Kevin Quinn, c., president of the United Irish Associations of West Hudson

When I first knew, for sure, I’d be coming back to Kearny after spending four years in South Florida, I decided to take a look at the calendar. Among several highlights, March 13 really stood out because it would be the first United Irish Associations of West Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade I’d be able to go to since 2008.

There’s no doubt — over the years, the parade was always one of the most enjoyable days of the year. And in 2016, nothing different — the parade was tremendous. In fact, it may have been the best parade I can recall ever.

This year’s parade featured the most marchers in the parade’s 43-year history, Jim Miller Jr., one of the parade’s most active trustees, told me after the parade was over Sunday. And it was pretty obvious. The parade didn’t finish, at the review station at Kearny Town Hall, until after 4 p.m. And delightfully, it seemed like it might never end.

It wasn’t until the North Arlington Fire Department approached the review stand that I knew it was coming to and end. They’re usually the final group of marchers [and Big Blue, their blue fire truck, usually serves as a reminder it’s ending, though the Lyndhurst Fire Department was actually the last of the parade participants this year].

Here’s the thing though — the people who organize the parade, under the incredible leadership of the United Irish’s long-time President Kevin Quinn — so rarely get recognized for the work they do. Rightfully, each year, we give great praise to the parade’s leaders, which, this year, featured Harrison Mayor James Fife, grand marshal and Barbara Cifelli-Sherry and Mary Anne Dunphy, deputy grand marshals.

But what very few people realize is that once the parade is over, there’s very little time for rest and relaxation. Sure, there’s the post-parade visit to local spots for a drink or two. But not too long after the current year’s parade ends, it’s already time to plan and prepare for the following year’s event.

Indeed, just weeks after this year’s parade, Quinn and the rest of the United Irish will go right back to work to plan the next year’s march along Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. and Kearny Ave.

The marchers don’t just show up. There’s so much behind-the-scenes work that happens that allows us all to enjoy the bagpipers, the other performers, the fire trucks, the county sheriff’s vehicles, etc. There’s also tremendous consideration given to the selection of the new parade honorees.

One might think taking a full year to prepare a one-day event might be excessive. But it’s not. It’s necessary. And Quinn and his people work their rear ends off.

So allow me to take a moment to congratulate Quinn, Miller, Mike Conlon, Joe Reese, Carol Hearn-Manley, Dan Manley, Deacon Len Mackesy, Artie Pettigrew, Sharon Dock McKeown, Pat O’Donnell, Eddie McKeown and every other trustee who puts in hours of time preparing the annual affair. [I’d really like to publicly recognize every trustee and volunteer in this space, but I fear I’ll forget someone — so check out www.uiawh.org and click ABOUT US and then BOARD OF TRUSTEES for a list of every committee member].

For two hours on a Sunday afternoon each year, we’re treated to the finest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New Jersey. The hours, days, weeks and months of preparation that allow us this annual treat is something that needs to be recognized.

Congratulations, Mr. Quinn and all. Ya done good this year, just as you all have every single year. Thanks for all your hard work. It does not go unnoticed.

Odds & ends

• The Junior Women’s Club of Arlington sent several spellers to their district spelling bee — and this year, Kearny’s Gordy Hu placed fourth for honorable mention. Thanks to Brandi Leigh Miller for letting us know — and for all the good community work the JWCA is doing for the local community.

• Returning to Kearny after being away for eight years has been bitter-sweet. While it’s been wonderful to catch up with so many people I haven’t seen, it’s been pretty difficult knowing that so many great people have died over those eight years. Sadly, it happened again, most recently, when one of the first people I ever knew in Kearny — dating back to 1985 — died.

Linda Humphrey left this world a few weeks ago. She was the mother of Kearny Library Director Josh Humphrey, the very first friend I ever made in this town 31 years ago. Linda was affectionately known as “Pine,” and despite our many loud debates about the Mets and Yankees, was one of the most incredible human beings.

I was looking forward to seeing her when I returned, but I never got that opportunity. You talk about someone who was a music expert — if there was something you needed to know about anything from the 1960s on, she knew it. Her love for music really dictated who she was.

She’s someplace much better off now. And the greatest solace is knowing she’s with her son, Jeff, whom she lost a little more than a year ago in a horrific car crash on the N.J. Turnpike.

Rest in peace, Pine. To say you will be missed is a gross understatement.

• One of my oldest and dearest friends, Kristen Lynch-Stambuli, a Port Authority of New York & New Jersey police officer, recently started the Women’s Law Enforcement Association for female members of the department. Two weeks ago, along with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, the group honored the late Capt. Kathy Mazza of the PAPD.

Mazza was one of 37 Port Authority cops who died on Sept. 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center’s collapse.

The proverbial cap is tipped to Lynch-Stambuli for ensuring Mazza was recognized for having made the ultimate sacrifice. And we give thanks to Lynch-Stambuli for ensuring that issues related to female police officers are being heard and recognized.

Kevin Canessa Jr. can be reached by email at kc@theobserver.com or on Facebook & Twitter @KevinCanessa. The opinions expressed herein are only those of the writer.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.