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HOYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM)– The St. Patrick’s committee of Holyoke is celebrating the return of the city’s big annual saint Patrick’s Day parade. They kicked off parade season with a gala with the 2020-2022 award recipients honored throughout the event.

About 160 people gathered tonight to celebrate the start of Holyoke’s annual parade season. We spoke with two of the award recipients and the president of the committee to find out what the return of the parade means for the community.

“I mean the anticipation for this parade has been building up for two years,” said Marc Joyce, president of St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke.

Holyoke’s annual Saint Patrick’s Parade will be held for the first time in two years due to the covid-19 pandemic. On Saturday Night, the Saint Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke held a gala fundraising event as part of the official kick off to the parade season.

“This is our first real formal event and we’re excited about that,” said Joyce.

Western Mass Mews spoke with David Gidden, the 2020 John. F Kennedy award winner, to find out how it felt to be honored at Saturday’s event.

“I grew up with the parade, a big part of my life so all of a sudden to have the parade committee honor me with the JFK is super special because it’s not just about my Irish heritage it’s about my Holyoke heritage,” said Gidden.

Holyoke native Brian Donoghue, the winner of the 2020 George E. O’Connell award and a long-standing member of the parade committee – tells us the committee is looking forward to returning in person this year to continue upholding a decades long community tradition.

“We spent a lot of hours over the course of the year planning the parade and you get to see the fruits of your hard work on that weekend,” said Donoghue.

The president of the Saint Patrick’s Committee told us that the parade’s impact on local business plays an important role in the community.

“The impact is in many ways a psychological people the last two years it was kind of depressing at that time of the year the financial impact that we have is extraordinarily significant there are some restaurants and pubs that this is almost 50% of their gross revenues is this weekend,” said president Marc Joyce, President of St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke.

The annual 45th St. Patrick’s road race will be held on Saturday March 19th from 1pm – 3pm on Maple and Lyman street and the 69th annual Saint Patrick’s Parade will kick off on Sunday Mar. 20 at 11:10 am.

Joyce added that the parade is expected to have its normal numbers with 15,000 marchers, 18-20 floats and about 28 marching units and bands to celebrate the Irish holiday.

“And if we have great weather, I think will be a weekend like Holyoke hasn’t seen in a long time,” said Joyce.

The parade is just 28 days away and Joyce adds he anticipates it to have a large turnout similar to its last one held in 2019.

Copyright 2022. Western Mass News (WGGB/WSHM). All rights reserved.

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