By KATHY CHANG
WOODBRIDGE — The sound of bagpipes, some Irish step dancing and a sea of green are expected to fill the streets of the township as the American Irish Association of Woodbridge serves as the host to its 44th annual Woodbridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The parade kicks off at Woodbridge High School at 1:30 p.m. on March 12.
Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) will serve as grand marshal of the parade, Ken Egan is the Irishman of the Year, Barbara Thompson is the Irishwoman of the Year, Brianne Carey Dowd is Ms. American Irish and Julia Sinatra is Lady in Waiting.
Mary Ann White-Natale, chairwoman for the parade, said while the parade is in its 44th year, the association, which is an Irish civic and social organization, is celebrating 50 years.
The parade theme is “50 years — American Irish of Woodbridge.”
“We have a float dedicated to the 50 years in honor of the two families of Michael McGovern and Joe Jackson, who were founding members of the association,” she said.
White-Natale said countless volunteers make the parade, which draws thousands of people every year, possible.
“We have two men who do our advertisement book every year and work on collecting donations,” she said. “The parade just keeps getting better and better.”
White-Natale said membership in the American Irish Association of Woodbridge come from within the township and out of town as well.
“The parade is so successful, which draws families that come back year after year,” she said.
New this year, White-Natale said they will recognize a residence on their parade route with the best decorations and spirit.
“Over the years, we have observed residences participate and go out of their way to entertain their guests during the parade,” she said. “The members of the committee sent out letters to homes on the parade route and will vote on the best decorated.”
At the end of the parade, the residence selected will be presented with a prize.
The association and honoree ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. at Woodbridge Middle School followed by a Flag Raising Ceremony at Woodbridge Town Hall on March 12.
Then the parade will kick off at 1:30 p.m. at the high school and will end at Woodbridge Town Hall on Main Street.
For more information, email Mary Ann White-Natale at WoodbridgeIrishParade@Gmail.com.