Parades, festivals: NJ’s large-scale events return amid pandemic

NEW JERSEY – With numbers dropping after the peak of the omicron variant, many grassroots gatherings that took a COVID-19 break are gearing up to return.

As of Friday, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 2,501 new and confirmed cases statewide. This differed from early January, when omicron roared into New Jersey, with the total number of new daily cases exceeding 30,000.

Many events were canceled with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, with some also not happening in 2021, due to New Jersey’s size limit on outdoor gatherings. Governor Phil Murphy suggested on February 7 that he saw no reason to cancel the parades.

“Be responsible. Be smart, especially when you’re indoors,” Murphy said. “But by definition, a parade is outdoors.”

One of the first parades to return is the Belmar-Lake Como St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 6 at 12:30 p.m., which starts on the main street of Lake Como and ends in Belmar. The parade is scheduled to begin with an investiture mass at 10 a.m. at St. Rose Church on Seventh Avenue. Lunch is scheduled to follow the parade at Dollan’s Shore Club on Route 71 in Spring Lake Heights.

Another making a comeback is the Morris County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, returning March 12 at noon.

Morristown Council imposed limits on activities that day. It approved in 1776 David Burke’s extension of its outdoor drinking area for the parade at its meeting the day after Murphy’s decision. The Fraternal Order of Eagles club was permitted to hold an indoor event for the public on the day of the parade, as it would not impact public property. He rejected The Homestead’s request for a celebration in the parking lot of the Woman’s Club in Morristown because it is close to residences and may have a noise violation, the council said.

The original Hamilton St. Patrick’s Day Parade, starting at Nottingham Fire Station and marching down Nottingham Way, is another set to return on March 12 at 12:30 p.m. Gerard (Jerry) Sheridan is set to be Grand Marshal, with Nicole Brown Miss St. Patrick. Sheridan and Brown had already been chosen for 2020, before the 2020 and 2021 shows were canceled.

The Woodbridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade is also scheduled for March 13, hosted by the Woodbridge American Irish Association. The parade is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. at Woodbridge High School and end at City Hall. Instead of the parade in 2021, parade chairman Ben Campbell led the “Food Parade”, with the charity collecting food to donate to local pantries.

Not all St. Patrick’s Day parades were able to make a comeback in 2022, Sussex County is one of them. The Newton Fire Department took over just before the pandemic hit in 2020, after former parade organizers stepped down from coordinating the popular annual event in Newton. Jason Miller, the fire chief, told Patch that even with Murphy’s decision, the group wouldn’t have been able to organize it in time. He’s aiming for a runway show in 2023, Miller said.

“In December 2021, the CDC was reporting that a 500% more contagious variant was coming,” Miller wrote of plans for the 2022 parade on Feb. 8. “

“We also had members of our fire department who became ill and were taken out of service, which made planning a large event nearly impossible,” he added.

After going virtual in 2021, the Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival is set to hit the red carpet on April 27-28. It starts with a launch party on April 25 at Raymonds, followed by the festival itself at Bow Ties Cinemas on April 27. and 28. The festival’s after-party is scheduled at the Felina restaurant on April 28. See more details here.

The 31st annual Michael Arnone Crayfish Festival is scheduled to return to the Sussex County Fairgrounds between June 3-5.

Traditionally held the weekend after Memorial Day, the fairgrounds saved the date, with the first cancellation in 2020 due to state limits on large gatherings. Arnone canceled the 2021 festival after watching the rise in cases across the country and in Louisiana where he lives. Tickets from past festivals rescheduled due to COVID-19 should be honored for the 2022 event.

Arnone said he stayed in touch with local and state health officials for advice and guidance to move forward with plans for the event, complete with Louisiana-style cuisine and musical entertainment, artisans, camping and more.

“We’re going to have a great homecoming,” Arnone said.

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