What does it takes to put on a parade?

Simple question, but the answer is tough. The simple answer is “Lots of dedicated volunteers, sacrificing lots of time, to do lots of work.”

A St. Patrick’s Day Parade, or any parade for that matter, looks easy because of all the time and effort that goes into it. Truth is that it takes well in excess of 1000 hours of volunteer time. Some devote maybe 30-40 hours of their time and others, over 100 hours.

The Rumson Saint Patrick’s Day Parade results from the combined effort of the entire Parade Committee and the Trustees of the Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc,

The Trustees job is to oversee the whole operation and establish the guidelines to be followed by the various committees. The Trustees are all volunteers and are charged with the responsibility of assuring that the parade has the necessary financial support to be successful. They also select the Grand Marshal and Honorary Grand Marshal(s) for each year with input from each of the committees.

Prior to the parade, the Fundraising Committee is the most visible of all the committees. Fundraising is critical since the parade is paid for solely by private contributions, sponsoring companies, an advertising journal and pre-event fundraisers. There are no public funds provided by the borough, county or state. This committee is comprised of a number of committed volunteers who meet regularly, and solicit donations from local corporations, businesses and community members in the area. They are also responsible for the various fundraisers.

The Parade sub-committees may be the less visible, except on Parade Day, but their work is extremely important. When the spectators enjoy the parade they know they did their job. A lot of work and many months of coordination must occur before the Parade steps off on Parade Day. The Parade Committee’s sole objective is to provide a fitting tribute to American Irish tradition and St. Patrick, while at the same time, provide the local communities citizens with a memorable and fun family day.

Some of the committees include; Advertising Journal, Bands, Communications, Dignitaries/VIP’s/Judges, Fundraising, Line of March, Logistics, Parade Route , Police and Municipal Liaisons, Programs & Activities, Prizes and awards, Publicity & Marketing, Public Safety, Volunteer Recruitment, Web Design & Graphics

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts in putting on a parade and the success of the parade is directly attributed to the sum of all those parts. The one thing we cannot control is the weather, for that we rely on prayer. But even if it does rain (God Forbid) the show goes on.

Parade Day really starts  weeks before with the Investiture Ceremony where the Grand Marshal and others get their sashes. Then there’s the Tree Lighting Ceremony where the Mayor reads the proclamation and the tree is officially lit by the Grand Marshal signifying the beginning of a month of Irish celebrations. Next comes the painting of the green line down the middle of the road and the painting of the Shamrocks. The night before all the barriers need to go out, grand stands moved, areas roped off and last minute preparations made. On the actual parade day the marshals and coordinators will then post signs to the parade lot, register the units and bands and prepare for the floats and other parade vehicles to arrive and position themselves at gates and around the lot to direct and assist parade participants. The first float usually begin arriving arrives around 11:00am and for the next hour and half all the others arrive. At 1:00 the Parade Starter cuts the ribbon and the parade steps off immediately after that. Getting the parade started is always fun as it takes getting the first dozen groups out of the lot before it flows smoothly.

By 2:20, our parade will be history. Shortly thereafter the Parade team meets a few more times to go over what went right, what went wrong and to discuss any opportunities for improvement that may have surfaced. Then, in a couple of months, planning starts for next year’s parade. Crunch time may be December through March, but as you can see, it’s a year round process.


As you can imagine, producing an event of this size and scope takes the time and energy of many volunteers; that’s where you come in. From fundraising to publicity and all points in between, no matter where your interests lie, there is a committee that could use your talents. If you’re interested in giving us a hand, email us at Join us, you’ll have fun and meet some interesting people.