" Let's Have a Parade "
These words, uttered by Richie Clark back in March of 1978 were the seeds of what has become the Nutley Irish American Alliance's Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Joe "Muggs" McGuiness and Paul Denkinger brought the idea of a parade up to Judge Robert Citrino. He loved the idea. His father, the town doctor, had always loved the parade in New York. The Judge overcame many obstacles to make parade day a reality. He acquired the permit, the flags, the pipe band, and he even had the first green line painted.
The first parade stepped off March 17, 1978 behind the St. Columcille Pipe Band; the first Grand Marshal, Joe "Muggs" McGuiness; Aide, Bob Rusignuolo; flag bearers, Bob Parke and Jerry Popcock. The banner carried by Bob Carr and Bob Weingartner read "The Friendly Sons of Maggie's Garter". The Queen, Cindy Cunningham, rode in a borrowed boat belonging to Mark Waidren, accompanied by sisters, Trish and Dawn, along with Paul Denkinger. Drew Bartsch made his debut as our local Leprechaun, green shoes and all.
The line of march saw Joe and Ruth Cunningham, Steve Blank, Rick Harle, Jeff Britton, Ken Williams, Bill Woodruff, Craig Sheperd, The Crowley Brothers and Vinnie Dunn. Richie Clark and Walt Murray drove the float, a flat bed owned by Viola Brothers. Officer Dan Meeham walked the parade route with the small band of marchers to their destination, "Maggie's Garter". Along the way the group passed under the Nutley High School baseball team in the oval under the leadership of two fine Irishmen, Carmen Lemma and Joe Affinito, who suspended play to stand attention, caps over their hearts in salute to the flag.
The reviewing stand supplied by Judge Citrino, stood at jack's Sweet Shop. The Judge, along with Harry Chenowteh, Carmen Orechio and Jack Haskel honored Grand marshal McGuiness and Queen Cindy with flowers and green bagels. The Judge kissed the Queen and gave a corsage to Mrs. Denkinger. And so, the St. Patrick's Day parade that no one thought would ever come to be, was born and with it, the Nutley Irish American Alliance was organized.
The first formal parade was organized in 1979 with the able assistance of our first and current Parade Chairman, John V. Kelly and the late Judge Robert Citrino. The Nutley Irish have sponsored the annual event ever since. The Nutley St. Patrick's Day Parade has grown in stature and tradition in the thirty-one years. We have an Investiture Mass at St. Mary's Church to start the day and celebrate with the Irish entertainment at the end of the day. The Nutley Irish American Alliance has taken its place in the community by supporting community activities, providing scholarships to students, sponsoring a soccer team and providing holiday food baskets to needy families. The NIAA is also a member of the Nutley Chamber of Commerce. We thank all of our supporters, past and present, and extend to you all "Cead Mile Failte" a Hundred Thousand Welcomes.