The trill of bagpipes filled the air in downtown Newark Friday afternoon, as the city celebrated its 77th annual St. Patrick's Day parade, known as the oldest and finest parade in New Jersey.
The hour-long parade, which began at the Prudential Center on Mulberry Street, was led by Grand Marshal Kevin Cummings, president and chief executive officer of Investors Bank, and Deputy Grand Marshal Sr. Deborah L. Humphreys, councilor of the Leadership Team of the Sisters of Charity.
The parade kicked off with a traditional grandstand ceremony, which honored organizers and dignitaries and included a performance by the Peter Smith School of Irish Dance and music by the Castlerea Brass & Reed Band.
"Essex County is a diverse county and we celebrate the heritage of all our residents," said Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders President Blonnie R. Watson. "But today is special. Today is Irish Day."
This year's parade was dedicated to the late Mary Rita McGovern, who was deeply connected to her Irish heritage and whose family owns McGovern's Tavern, a famed pub in Newark.
"The Irishness in our families was taught to us by our father, Frank," said McGovern's brother, Frank Darcy Jr.
Darcy and his siblings, who were raised in East Orange, were members of the Darcy 5 Irish Step Dancers and performed at the Newark St. Patrick's Day parade for years. He said after sister Mary married Eamonn McGovern, the two families became bonded by their Irish roots, sharing with each other lessons of culture and history.
"I remember days gone by in front of city hall," said Darcy, who accepted a proclamation on behalf of his sister. "We were out there for every parade."
The parade went up Mulberry Street past the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and took Central Avenue to the Newark Museum on Washington Street, where it ended.
Click through the pictures and watch the video above to learn more.