"Let's Have a Parade"
Nutley's Irish Heritage and Parade Origins
Nutley New Jersey's Irish heritage runs deep. In the late 1700's and
through the 1800's Nutley was a major quarry town; so much that most of New
York City's brownstone came from Nutley. The Irish families of King, Phillips
and Joyce owned Nutley's brownstone quarries and most of the original
quarrymen were Irish immigrants. The Phillips family went on to donate the
land and brownstone for Nutley's first Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary's, in
More than 100 years later, in March of 1878, a modern day Irishman, Richie
Clark uttered the words: "Let's have a parade." These were the seeds of what
was to become the Nutley Irish American Association's Annual St. Patrick's Day
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
the parade 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, 1878 behind the St. Columcille Pipe
Band; the first Grand Marshall, Joe "Muggs" McGuiness; Aide, Bob Rusignuolo;
flag bearers, Bob Parke and Jerry Popcock. The banner carried by Bob Carr and
Bob Wiengartner 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 Shepperd, The Crowley
Brothers, and Vinnie Dunn. Richie Clark and Walt Murray drove a float owned by
Viola Brothers. Officer Dan Meeham walked with the parade route with a small
band of marchers to their destination, "Maggies Garter." Along the way the
team passed the Nutley High School baseball team in the Oval under the
leadership of two fine Irishmen, Carmen Lemma and Joe Affinto, who suspended
play to stand at attention, caps over their hearts to salute the flag.
The reviewing stand supplied by Judge Citrino stood at Jack's Sweet Shop.
The Judge, along with Harry Chenoweth, Carmen Orechio and Jack Haskel honored
Grand Marshal McGuiness and Queen Cindy with flowers and green bagels. The
Judge also kissed the Queen and gave a corsage to Mrs. Denkinger. And so, the
St. Patrick's Parade that no one thought would ever come to be, was born.
The first formal parade was organized in 1879 with the able assistance of
our first and still current Parade Chairman, John V. Kelly and late Judge
Citrino and has been an annual event ever since. The Nutley St. Patrick's Day
Parade has grown in stature and tradition in the twenty-four years that have
passed. We have added an investiture Mass at St. Mary's Church to start the
day and a celebration with Bobby Byrne at the end of the day. The Nutley Irish
American Association has taken it's place in the community by supporting
community activities, providing scholarships to students, sponsoring a soccer
team and providing holiday food baskets to needy families.