NORTH WILDWOOD — Pat Larr made sure to travel this weekend from her family’s home in Levittown, Pa., to their summer place to catch the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Larr, 69, comes every year for the parade, which marched Saturday.
“My son was born on St. Patrick’s Day. He will be 44 on Monday. He lives in Morrisville, Pa. ... My son’s name is Patrick,” said Larr, who wore a green jacket and spent all her summers growing up here. “I’m seeing people I know march in the parade.”
With her husband, Ted Larr, still at home, Larr stood at 11:30 a.m. on the main parade route on Atlantic Avenue, one block from the start of the parade at City Hall, waiting for it to begin.
Larr’s great-grandparents on both sides of her family were born in Ireland. Larr remembers sitting at the kitchen table with four generations singing Irish songs: her great-grandparents, her parents, her and her son. Larr visited Ireland for the first time in 1997 and returned the following year. She has not been back but would like to return.
“It’s like a little bit of heaven fell out of the sky,” Larr said of how beautiful the country was.
Larr knew marchers in the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The parade featured the Irish Pipe Brigade Cape-Atlantic, the Cape May County Police & Fire Emerald Society Honor Guard, the Wildwood High School Marching Band, Miss North Wildwood Maureen Hennessy and the Gloucester City String Band, among others.
Trish Eckert, 40, of Wildwood, stood on the sidewalk with her 3-year-old daughter, Kelsey Eckert, in a stroller. Kelsey, who wore a shamrock necklace, waved to the marchers passing by.
Eckert daughter Kaylie Eckert, 9, was at a different part of the parade with her dad. Kaylie still likes parades, Eckert said.
“The kids like the firetrucks and the string bands,” said Eckert, who wore green beads on a chain around her neck.
Eckert said she came to the parade to celebrate her Irish heritage. Eckert’s father is Irish, and her grandfather on her father’s side was born in Ireland. After the parade, Eckert was not done with all things Irish this month. A schoolteacher in Camden County, Eckert said she would be making Irish potatoes with her class on Monday.
This city wasn’t the only place in southern New Jersey celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday.
The 29th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Atlantic City started at 1 p.m. on New Jersey Avenue and the Boardwalk and continued down to Albany Avenue. Sea Isle City had its 24th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Celebration at 3:30 p.m. beginning at 93rd Street along Landis Avenue and heading down to 63rd Street. The 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Boardwalk 10-miler and 5K run was held in Margate.
Jill Roach, soon to be Jill O’Connell, was born and raised here, but she never attended the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade until Saturday.
Roach, who was taking photos with her green phone, was motivated to experience the parade for the first time because her fiance was marching with the Angelsea Irish Society. It helped that temperatures were in the 50s with blues skies and the sun shining with little wind after so many weekends were ruined by the harsh winter.
Last year, Roach visited Ireland for the first time. Roach’s great-grandparents were Irish.
“It was absolutely beautiful, stunning,” said Roach, who added she planned to travel to Ireland again this summer. “Bagpipes used to annoy me. Now, I’m obsessed with them. ... Last year (in Ireland), there was a heat wave, no rain. We had absolutely gorgeous weather. It made for the best trip.”
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