Morris County St Patricks Day Parade 2017
Written on February 2, 2016
Saturday, March 11th, 2017 at 12.00 Noon
T. MICHAEL QUINN, 2017 GRAND MARSHAL
Each Summer, the Morris County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Trustees select the Grand Marshal for the following year’s parade. The Trustees unanimously selected T. Michael Quinn as 2017 Grand Marshal in recognition of his community activities and his strong commitment to and support of Irish culture in Morris County.
Mike says he is humbled by his selection. When informed that he was selected he said he was at a loss for words. He had been instrumental in bringing the Parade to Morristown and noted, “Since our first meeting with the then Mayor Norman Block 27 years ago asking him if we could have a Parade in Morristown, I never imagined I would be asked to be the Grand Marshal. What an honor!”
Mike and his wife Jacquelyn are long-time residents of Morris County. Mike’s parents, Thomas and Lois, were both in United States Marines and Mike was born in Quantico, Virginia. After his parents were discharged the family moved to Victory Road in West Orange. Following in his parent’s tradition in 1963 Mike joined the USMC. Mike is the oldest of three children, his sister, Patricia Anne Quinn Walkup and brother, Mark Quinn.
Mike has always been proud of his Irish Heritage, which can be traced back to Galway, Ireland. One of Mike’s fondest memories as a young boy is holding his Dad’s hand and walking in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. His Irish Pride has inspired him to be involved in numerous Irish activities. Including but not limited to, helping to organize with the National Park Service, a plaque displayed in Jockey Hollow commemorating the more than 75% of Irish troops stationed there during the Revolutionary War and a reenactment of the first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade held in the United States, as a celebration of Irish recognition during the Revolutionary War. Mike also assisted in many different capacities with the annual Irish Feis sponsored by the Irish American Association of North West Jersey.
At the age of seven his family moved to East Hanover where Mike attended grammar school and three years at Hanover Park High School before moving to Florida. After graduating high school in West Palm Beach Florida, he attended the Dwight Stark School of Art. After graduation, he moved back to New Jersey in order to pursue a career in New York City as an Artist. It didn’t take Mike long to realize that a career in art wasn’t for him. Moving on, Mike found a position with Hewlett Packard as a designer. There he gained valuable knowledge of electricity. He then took an examination to become an Electrician with the State of New Jersey while working at Martland Hospital, in Newark. There he joined Local 68 Stationary Engineers. While working full time he also attended Newark College of Engineering and studied Electrical Engineering. Mike’s Licenses include: New Jersey State License for Interior Design, New Jersey Engineers License and a New Jersey Refrigeration License. For the last 30 years he has enjoyed working in his own business designing, building, furnishing; Commercial, Healthcare, Industrial and Institutional interiors.
Mike has been married to Jacquelyn Swetz Quinn for over 49 years and are parishioners of St. Vincent’s in Madison. They have two children Brian and Amy. Brian, a proud member of the Friendly Sons for over twenty-five years and his wife, Ines and Mike’s grandson Zachary live in Chester, New Jersey. Mike’s daughter Amy lives in California.
In his commitment to being active in the community, in 1968 Mike joined the Morristown Fire Department and held various administrative and line officer’s positions. He is still a member. After moving to Florham Park he joined the Florham Park Volunteer Fire Department and held the position of President and line officer’s positions for many years. He is a New Jersey State Exempt Fire Fighter. Mike also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity spending weeks in New Orleans rebuilding after Katrina.
As a founding member, of the Morris County Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick (FSSP), he has served in many capacities, including President. Mike is also a founding member of the current Morris County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, held in Morristown the Saturday before Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated. He has served as a Trustee of the Parade organization and for many years on the Finance and Parade Committees.
The Morris County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade started in Wharton in 1979 by the Irish American Association of Northwest New Jersey (IAANWJ). It grew in size and popularity until it outgrew the town of Wharton and was moved to Morristown. Mike worked closely with Morristown administration, the Irish American Association of Northwest New Jersey and the Friendly Sons to bring the parade to Morristown. During the evolution of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Morristown, Mike was instrumental in starting the “Pre-Parade” festivities on the day of the Morris County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The Pre-Parade show was formed to entertain the large crowd of spectators lining up early by the Green to watch the Parade. It includes the “Painting of the Shamrocks” by local youth organizations. The tradition of painting Shamrock’s dates back 27 years ago to the first modern day Parade in Morristown when 4 members of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, known today as the infamous “Shamrock 4”, painted 4 Shamrocks in the street the morning of the first parade. Mike is also a member of the IAANWJ, the founding organization of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade when the Parade was held in Wharton, New Jersey.
Combined, the parade through both The Friendly Sons and The Irish American organizations donates to various charities and organizations in the Morris County area. In the past 26 years these contributions have in excess of half a million dollars. Mike has proudly served in both of these organizations because they promote Irish heritage, language, traditions and education.
After his successful career, Mike is now retired. Mike and Jacquelyn enjoy traveling in their motorhome sightseeing new places, and meeting new people. They say getting there is part of the adventure as is capturing those memories with Mike’s photography skills.
Brief History of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
St. Patrick was born in Wales, when it was part of the Roman Empire. He was kidnapped at about age 15, sold as a slave and taken as a slave to Ireland. There he learned to pray to God and experienced a conversion. After a time he escaped to France. Having loved the Irish people, he returned to Ireland as a missionary, the first Bishop of Ireland, around 432.
20 years later, most of the Irish were Catholic. There is much reverence and honor for St. Patrick as the Patron of Ireland to this day. He is very much a part of true Irish Culture today.
March 17, 1780 – After the long hard winter of 1779-1780 in Jockey Hollow, Morristown NJ, George Washington, in recognition of the support of his Irish militiamen, and there were plenty of them, gave them the day off and thus began the first St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in the United States. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade then was in Morris County occurred in 1780:
- March 17, 1979, thanks to the Irish American Association of Northwest Jersey (IAANJ), the first official modern day Morris County St. Patrick’s in Morris County, was held in Wharton, NJ. Parade marchers paraded down a one mile stretch of Main Street, Wharton, to the cheers of hundreds of spectators.
- In 1981, while on a trip to Ireland, the president of IAANJ commissioned the nuns of the Carmelite Monastery, Tallow, County Waterford, Ireland to produce a hand-painted banner of St. Patrick and this exquisite work of art has led all Morris County St. Patrick’s Day Parades since then.
- From 1979 through 1990, the parade became larger and larger as it grew in popularity. More and more groups joined the parade and more and more spectators came out to enjoy it. By 1983, there were 48 units in the parade.
- By 1988, there were 56 units in the parade with over 1500 marchers and over 4000 spectators.
- In 1990, the parade in Wharton had its largest parade with greatest number of spectators ever marching down Main Street, It was clear that the parade had outgrown Wharton, a small and gracious community that hosted the Parade.
- In November 1990, IAANJ teamed up with the Friendly Sons of St Patrick (FSSP) of Morris County and began working with the Morristown administration to bring the parade to Morristown. It was a perfect place for the parade. It is the county seat; has a terrific and safe environment for a fun-filled family day for all residents of Morris County to enjoy; has adequate parking for parade participants and spectators; plus, Morristown has a rich history in Irish culture going back to the Revolutionary War.
- January 18, 1991, a Certificate of Incorporation for Non-Profit Organization, was issued for St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Morris County, Inc., and a Board of Trustees was formed for the new non-profit organization. It was formed to run the parade, to pay parade expenses, and most importantly, to provide charitable contributions to promote Irish culture and support various local children’s and other organizations that benefit Morris County.
- March 16, 1991, the annual Morris County St. Patrick’s Day Parade stepped off in Morristown for the first time with 3000 marchers, 13 bands and several floats and fire companies. There were thousands of spectators there to enjoy the day. It was a great day for everyone and has been ever since.
- From 1991 though 2014, the parade has grown to over 120 diverse groups, including over 20 bands, with over 4000 marchers with 50,000 to 80,000 spectators enjoying the Parade each year depending on weather.
- In 2000, the Morris County Parade history was submitted by Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen to the Library of Congress and was. featured in the Library of Congress Local Legacy Program, a high honor and tribute to the efforts of parade organizers and volunteers. Our parade got national recognition. Today, it takes over 75 volunteers puttiing in in excess of 2500 hours each year to put on the Parade.
- In 2006, to accommodate the parade’s growth in size and popularity the Parade route was extended three blocks by going around the Green instead of just passing through it.
- Since 1991, the Parade has voluntarily donated over $250,000 to the Town of Morristown as part of the Parade’s good neighbor policy to keep the parade from costing taxpayers anything.
- Since 1991, the Morris County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc. has donated almost $350,000 to local charitable organizations in keeping with the mission of our Non-Profit organization.
- Since 1991 Parade Day has begun with Mass at Assumption Church at 10:00 AM. The Mass is a special celebration of Irish Culture in honor of St. Patrick.
- In 2012, the Parade added Pre-Parade events to entertain spectators around the Green while waiting for the Parade to start.