Firefighters to the rescue: Newton FD organizes 2020 St. Patrick's parade in absence of county parade

A&E. The Newton Fire Department has stepped up to host this year's St. Patrick's Day parade, after last year's surprise announcement that there would no longer be a county parade. The parade will follow the usual route in Newton, and groups wishing to participate have until March 1 to sign up.

24 Feb 2020 | 10:04

By Mandy Coriston

The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, which came to Newton a decade ago, was thought to be a thing of the past when the county parade committee became defunct with the retirement of longtime chairs Dennis and Mary Harrington last July. The Newton Fire Department, doing what they do best, they came to the rescue in the fall by taking responsibility for planning and sponsoring the parade, which will step off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 21, along the town’s familiar Spring Street route.

The parade will feature local civic and community groups, first responders, bands, floats, and bagpipers and will honor the tradition of celebrating Sussex County and Irish heritage. It was important to firefighters to keep the parade alive, said NFD Lt. Jason Miller, noting that they’ve been working with the Harringtons, the town council, and the Morris County St. Patrick’s Day committee to put together an event that will be one the whole county can be proud of.

“We were all surprised when the news came that there would be no parade,” Miller said. “We couldn’t let that happen. We’ve had awesome support from the town and from sponsors around the area. We’re looking at one of the largest parades we’ve had in years.”

Miller said the Newton Town Council has been invited to be the event’s Grand Marshals, to honor them for their support during the planning phases.

“We also invited the Harringtons,” he said. “But they’ll be able to spend their St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland for the first time in a long time, so they’ll be away that day.”

Groups wishing to march in the parade may register until March 1, and pedestrian groups, as well as horses, vehicles, and floats are welcome. While Miller said there may be an application fee to support local charities in the future, there is no fee to participate in the parade this year. Forms can be obtained by emailing marketing@newtontownhall.com.