St. Patrick's parade on a sunny day

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  • The sun shines suddenly at the start of this year's Sussex County St. Patrick's Day Parade. (Photos by Laurie Gordon)

  • The Newton Town Crier, Bill Joseph.

  • Mark Hontz, Esq. has served as the parade's Master of Ceremonies for the 14 of its 16 years that it has been held in Newton.

  • Senator Steve Oroho with John McCade of the Celtic United Pipe & Drum.

By Laurie Gordon

The sun suddenly appeared as the 16th Annual Sussex County St. Patrick's Day Parade kicked off on Saturday.

“Over the year's we've had every kind of weather and each climate brings out different people," said Mark Hontz, a partner at Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Wojcik, Gacquin, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C. He has served as the parade's master of ceremonies since it came to Newton 14 years ago.

Hontz started the festivities with “Oh Danny Boy,” and he welcomed parade-goers.

“This year, we don't just have one, but we have many Grand Marshals,” he said.

The Vietnam Veterans of America, Wallkill Valley/Vernon Chapter 1002, led by their president, John Harrigan, has approximately 250 members. Chartered in 2009, these Vietnam Veterans have attended to Veterans at the Lyons VA Hospital, founded the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery, and continually assist all veterans to get the benefits to which they are entitled. In addition, the Chapter has awarded over $30,000 in scholarship grants to Sussex County high school students.

“They are an amazing group of people and it is our great pleasure to honor them at this year's parade,” said Sussex County St. Patrick's Day Parade co-chair, Mary Harrington.

Decked out in a bright green sweater, Senator Steve Oroho met with numerous groups prior to the parade and then part-took in the promenade.

“It's fantastic that the Vietnam Vets were chosen as this year's Grand Marshals,” he said. “They do so much for our Veterans. They know how they were treated when they came back from the war and it was bad. They are making sure that never happens again. I just can't say enough about this organization.”

“Being a veteran myself (U.S. Army), I think it's just great that the Vietnam Veterans were selected,” said Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada. “As Grand Marshals, many people will learn about all of the things they do to help our Veterans and the community.”

Mia Houghtaling and her family attended the Sussex County St. Patrick's Day Parade for the first time.

“It's really exciting,” she said. She attended the parade with her mother, Mary Houghtaling, who teaches English at Kittatinny Regional High School

Girl Scouts selling boxes of cookies along the parade route don't just say, “Girl Scout cookies for sale” anymore. These days, they call out, “we have vegan and gluten free.” Vans surf shoes have made a resurgence and are back in style, and women of all shapes and sizes rocked out their shamrock leggings. One lady encapsulated the '80s sporting spandex, leg-warmer boots and even threw in a cowboy hat, and a dapper-dan wore a snazzy three-piece suit patterned entirely in clovers.

“Look at all of these great people,” Oroho said. “People are coming out of the woodwork to celebrate community, traditions and this glorious event. It's a day to have fun and enjoy a great parade.”

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