The patron saint of Ireland hasn’t had to pump up the thousands of people who typically gather along Washington, Adams, and North for the town’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade since 2019.
But parade founder and organizer Jack Bailey said he’s spoken to St. Patrick personally and feels he’ll be ready for the parade’s return this Sunday.
“He’s hoping he’s got the energy to make it now, he’s two years out of practice,” Bailey said.
The 2020 and 2021 editions of the parade were canceled due to the pandemic, marking the first time in decades the community wasn’t able to gather to celebrate Abington’s deep Irish roots. (According to some estimates, nearly 45 percent of town residents claim Irish heritage making Abington one of the most Irish communities in Massachusetts – and thereby, the country.)
The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. in Abington Center and will proceed through St. Patrick’s Square, down to North Abington Center before ending at Railroad Street about an hour later. For those new to town who haven’t experienced the parade before, portions of the parade route – as well as side roads where marchers gather – will start to close down about noon.
Parade organizers have named the Council on Aging this year’s grand marshalls. Director Suzanne Djusberg and Outreach Coordinator Amy Barrett will be joined by three seniors for the honorary ride, Bailey said.
“We felt as if they had helped a lot during COVID, setting up for shots, etc.,” he said. “They’ve done a lot to help people in the community over 50.”
St. Patrick has traveled down Abington’s roads every year since 1980. He made his annual voyage along the parade route in 2020 and 2021; he just kept the traveling party limited to a few close mates.
But the parade is back in full swing this year. Bailey says it will feature 14 marching bands, the most ever. The count includes 6 bagpipe bands, a fife and drum band, and four high school bands. J.P. Ryan’s will have a trailer with an Irish band playing live on the back.
“We lost a couple of bands but gained a bunch,” Bailey said.
There are another 55-60 units signed up for the parade – featuring floats, entertainers, marching groups, and candidates for office – making the 2022 edition of the parade perhaps the largest ever.
An honor guard from the Rockland Police Department will lead the parade. A reviewing stand will be located in front of the Frolio School.