HOLYOKE, Mass. – The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade took over city streets for its 69th year and the first time in person since the start of the pandemic.
Thousands lined the streets to see the floats and marchers. Attorney John Driscoll was the grand marshal this year. Other participants included the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, Paralympic gold medalist Kyle Zych and the Chicopee Colleens. Parade-goers were also able to feast on an Irish buffet nearby. People were in good spirits as the parade made its return.
“It’s really great because I’ve been coming to this parade for over 55 years,” said Jeff Quirk. “My father was in the parade committee. This is our area right here. It’s nice to see some young people. This is our family here, and my beautiful wife.”
“Oh it’s fantastic, we missed it,” said Mary Cochran, who is also a long-time parade-goer. “I’ve never missed a parade. I’ve been to every single one my whole life. To have it gone for two years was devastating.”
“It’s certainly a different experience,” said Charley Tingle, a native of Ireland who is going to school in Vermont. “They’ve got different concepts of American culture in Ireland, just like got different concepts of Irish culture here in America. It’s an interesting take on it. The green is a big thing, a lot bigger than it is even in Ireland. I guess it gets exaggerated when you’re not in the actual country. It’s cool. It’s super cool to look at.”
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh marched in the parade alongside Congressman Richard Neal. Walsh was awarded the parade’s Ambassador Award, which is presented to a person who has worked to promote the relationship between the people of the Republic of Ireland and the people of the United States.