Pictured are (front row – left to right) District 5 Freeholder Carlos M. Pomares, Freeholder At-Large President Brendan W. Gill, Honorees: Brian Blum, Erin Baker, The Honorable Karen Smith, Deidre Hollywood, Dan Kane, and Conor Gardner. (Back row – left to right) District 4 Freeholder Leonard M. Luciano, Freeholder At-Large Romaine Graham, Freeholder At-Large Patricia Sebold, Freeholder Vice President Wayne L. Richardson, and District 3 Freeholder Tyshammie L. Cooper. PHOTO BY GLEN FRIESON

(Newark, NJ) – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders held its 2020 “Salute to the Irish” St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at the Hall of Records in Newark, New Jersey. The ceremony commemorated the heritage and traditions of the Irish community.

This year’s event was a collaborative effort of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin, and Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin. Freeholder President Gill began the program with opening remarks and acknowledged the importance of celebrating diversity and heritage in Essex County. As the previous Grand Marshal of the 2014 Nutley Parade, President Gill shared his firsthand experience with the distinguished honorees.

The program was highlighted by presentations of the Board’s Commendations to the Grand Marshals, Deputy Grand Marshals, and members of the organizing committees for Essex County’s three St. Patrick’s Day Parades: Nutley, West Orange, and Newark.

The 42nd Annual Nutley St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was held on Saturday, March 7th and represented by Grand Marshal the Honorable Karen Smith, Deputy Grand Marshal Brian Blum, 2020 Nutley Irish American Association Member of the Year Dan Kane, Parade Queen Erin Baker, Police Officer of the Year Robert McDermott, and Parade Co-Chairs Deidre and Dave Hollywood.

Grand Marshal The Honorable Karen Smith recently retired after 28 years as Belleville’s Chief Judge. She previously served as Prosecutor and Assistant Town attorney, and also maintained a private law practice serving the Nutley and Belleville communities. During her younger years, she spent a considerable amount of time fighting for equal rights in sports including marches in Washington, and serving on Title IX committees.

Deputy Grand Marshal Brian Blum is currently employed by the National Futures Association (NFA), and spent his first 22 years in the financial services industry working for Morgan Stanley. He credits his appreciation for the Irish culture to growing up in Rockaway Beach, often referred to as the “Irish Riviera” due to its large Irish American population. He is an active parishioner of St. Mary’s Church where he serves on the Lay Leadership and Oktoberfest Committees. Brian and his family are very involved in town events and are often seen on the Nutley United soccer fields, Nutley’s Relay for Life, and other community based events in Nutley.

The 2020 “Member of the Year” Dan Kane is a manager in the Verizon NJ business operations office. He is also a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a member of the Nutley VFW Post 493. He enjoys being active in his community by volunteering his time at Nutley Parks and Recreation as a coach for youth softball and soccer. He has been a member of the Nutley Irish American Association since 2006 and is an active participant. As a Trustee, he organizes and assists in the setup of their events and fundraisers. Dan resides in Nutley with his loving wife Colleen and their two beautiful daughters Katelyn and Lily.

Parade Queen Erin Baker was born and raised in Belleville and graduated from Immaculate Conception High School in 2015. She played basketball and softball for all four years, and from 2012 to 2015 she was a part of the three-time state champion softball team. In 2019, she graduated from Montclair State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Currently, she freelances for Maggie Vision Productions, works part-time at MetLife Stadium as a Premium Services Associate, and also works seasonally for the New York Jets in their corporate partnership department. She is the daughter of Richard and Toni Baker and has always felt blessed to have such strong Irish roots and traditions that she shares with her family and friends.

The 2020 “Police Officer of the Year” Robert McDermott is the Sergeant At-Arms for the Nutley Police Department’s Union PBA Local 33, and is one of the founding members of their annual toy drive, which he has been involved with for the past 17 years. He began his career with the Nutley Police Department in July 2000. He has served in numerous capacities including patrolman, a plain clothes officer in the Anti-Crime Unit, and a Detective in the Criminal Investigations Bureau, and he currently serves as a team leader for the department’s Emergency Services Unit.  Although he has received numerous department citations and commendations, he believes his greatest accomplishment is being the father of two beautiful daughters.

The 69th Annual West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee was represented by Grand Marshal Mellen Dangler, Deputy Grand Marshals John DeMars, Bobby Lamb, Patrick Giblin, Robert Swenson, and Parade Chairperson Kevin Brennan.

Grand Marshal Mellen Dangler is a lifelong resident of West Orange and co-owner of the Dangler Funeral Home of West Orange and the Dangler, Lewis & Carey Funeral Home in Boonton. She is an active member of numerous civic and cultural organizations including the Giblin Association, Irish American Society of the Oranges, The Eagle Rock Civic Association, and the Women of Irish Heritage. She is widely known for her incredible fundraising prowess and has spearheaded many successful charitable events for over 25 years. She has been married to the love of her life, Darren, for 30 years and is the proud mother of four children, the Aunt of 33, and Great Aunt of 34 nieces and nephews.

Deputy Grand Marshal John DeMars joined the West Orange Police Department in 1996 and has served in many capacities ranging from the Patrol Division and Detective Bureau, to Internal Affairs and the Street Crimes Unit. He currently serves as the commanding officer of the West Orange Police Department Detective Bureau and Juvenile Aid Bureau in the Criminal Investigations Division. He has been the recipient of multiple awards for Valor, Meritorious Service, Excellence, and command citations from the New Jersey, Essex County, and West Orange Policemen’s Benevolent Association. His love and pride for his Irish heritage was instilled in him by his Grandmother and Great Grandmother. He has visited Ireland many times and enjoys the rich culture while spending time visiting friends throughout the country. He currently resides in Verona with his wife Dana and their three children.

Deputy Grand Marshal Bobby Lamb, now retired, had a long and distinguished career as an Advertising Executive for 45 years. Upon his retirement, he was recognized with the Excellent Career Award presented by the Local Marketing Association, and was awarded the Shillelagh Man of the year in 2017. He was born and raised in Montclair and attended Immaculate High School. He excelled in basketball and baseball, and is a member of the Immaculate Conception High School Athletic Hall of Fame. After high school, he was drafted into the United States Army and proudly served for 2 years. He is a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 9, Montclair, has been a member of the Montclair Knights of Columbus for over 50 years, and has been a member of the Shillelagh Club, West Orange Chapter, for over 20 years. He is the proud father of five children, and grandfather of nine grandchildren.

Deputy Grand Marshal The Honorable Patrick Giblin is the Mayor of Cranford, New Jersey. Prior to his career in public service, he was a Certified Financial Planner and worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. He was named “Young Irishman of the Year” by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of the Oranges in 2009, and currently serves as a Trustee of the organization.  He has been a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Division 9 for over 25 years, is member of the Cranford Jaycees, and currently serves as Chairman of the Cranford Jaycees Scholarship Committee, which awards over 20 college scholarships annually to Cranford students on the basis of community service. Patrick and his wife Tara have been married for 16 years. They settled in Cranford in 2009 and are the proud parents of three children.


Deputy Grand Marshal Robert Swenson, is the owner of “Rob Swenson Photography”. He was raised in Montclair, attended Northeast Elementary School, Mt. Hebron (now Buzz Aldrin Middle School), graduated Montclair High School in 1977, and currently resides in Montclair. His passion behind the lens has made him famous throughout New Jersey as the premier photographer for Irish events.  He began photographing events in the late 1980’s for the McGovern Association, Giblin Association, the Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and numerous other organizations. In 1999, he became the official photographer for the West Orange St. Patrick’s Committee. He is known for capturing priceless memories for honorees on Parade day, and has been an integral part of the Parade Committee serving as a Public Relations Officer and Historian.

The 2020 Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade is known as the infamous “granddaddy of them all.” This year’s parade was represented by Grand Marshal Michael D. Byrne, Deputy Grand Marshal Eileen McGinley Hannaford, and General Chairman John M. “Jack” Doll.

Grand Marshal Michael D. Byrne, a lifelong resident of Montclair, is the founder of Pilgrim Strategies, LLC, a political consulting group, and is the president of the 100 Club of Montclair. He is an active member of numerous organizations including, the Thomas Aquinas College Board of Regents, the Montclair Fourth of July Parade Committee, the Montclair Republican Club, and the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh in West Orange. He previously served as General Chairman of the Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. In that role, he worked to increase participation by establishing the annual Newark St. Patrick’s Day High School Band Competition, as well as Art and Essay contests for students of the Archdiocese of Newark. In his free time, he operates a small landscaping business Pilgrim Pruning, LLC, in Montclair.

Deputy Grand Marshal Eileen McGinley Hannaford is the President and Executive Chairman of the Kevin J. Hannaford, Sr. Foundation, Inc., which was named after her late husband who passed away during the terrorist attacks on September 11th. The foundation aims to honor Kevin’s memory by empowering children in the community to meet their educational needs through financial gifts. She is also an active member of the Advisory Board of Directors of Tuesday’s Children, the American Irish Historical Society, The Giblin Association, and the Willow Brooke Farms Homeowner Association. She lives in Basking Ridge with her two children, Patrick and Kevin, who are both are graduates of Seton Hall Preparatory School and now attend Fordham University and Bucknell University, respectively.

This year’s parade was dedicated to the late Francis J. “Frank” Coyne. He was born in Dawros Beg, Letterfrack, County Galway, Ireland, in 1933 and emigrated to the United States in 1954. He settled in Newark and served in the United States Marine Corps from 1956 to 1959. He drew great pride in being someone who lived in Essex County. He spent his entire professional life, including more than 40 years as a Chief Engineer on Broad Street, working in Newark. He was a veteran of the parade, having attended or marched in it countless times. He met and married the love of his life, Eileen E. Giblin, in 1964. They would settle in West Caldwell where they would raise their five children. He often said one of his greatest achievements was seeing all five of his children graduate college.

This year’s program also featured opening and closing prayers from Reverend Paul Donohue of St. Lucy’s Church. The program was filled with performances, including: a bagpipe performance by Conor Gardner, a vocal selection from Carolyne Volpe Curley, and a special Irish Dance performance by students from the DeNogla School of Irish Dance.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
For Additional Information:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)
Follow Us: