Thousands represented their towns, their pride and their Irish heritage at the 38th Annual Belmar-Lake Como St. Patrick's Day Parade along Main Street on Sunday.
A long line of war veterans and other organizations proudly marched down Main Street on a sunny but slightly chilly day, including the Belmar and West Orange chapters of the Friendly Sons of The Shillelagh.
Many used scarves and blankets to keep warm at the annual parade. But the chilly weather did not stop thousands of people from celebrating.
Many Irish enthusiasts dressed in St. Patrick’s Day hats, necklaces, scarves and more. For those who got to Belmar past noon, it was difficult getting a spot to see the street.
Many sat along the curb with blankets draped over them to keep warm. For months now, the town has had steady traffic run through, but not like Sunday, when there was an overflow of people crowded in for this big celebration.
Among the attendees was 27-year-old Joseph DiMartini of Ridgefield Park.
“I’m here with friends who I don’t get to see often and to have a good time. The parade gives me an excuse to come here,” he said.
DiMartini went on to explain that he enjoys Belmar this time of year when the summer crowd is not around and he will be making this parade a yearly event.
Theresa Miele, 14, of Spring Lake was in attendance with her aunt, parents, and sister. Prior to the parade, they went to the pancake breakfast at St. Rose. Each member of her family was having a great time viewing the activity around them.
“It’s really fun, everyone dresses up in crazy hats and clothes,” she said.
Organizations such as the Old Bridge chapter of The Order of The Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh represented their towns, played music and celebrated the day - about two weeks early.
For the sons, the celebration started at 9 a.m. with a 34th annual Memorial Mass.
The Rev. Joseph Desmond led the mass commemorating the order's deceased members with some readings from the Gospel, followed by a blessing of the congregation.
Desmond kept the service light and upbeat, even having the entire room roaring with laughter at one point. Later on, one member said, "We should have him come in for open-mic night."
Desmond joked, "I don't come cheap."