Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade, road race to draw thousands to Paper City this weekend

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 03-17-2023 1:46 PM

HOLYOKE — It’s that time of year again to get your Irish on for the annual Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parade and road race this weekend.

The celebrations on Saturday and Sunday are expected to draw thousands of people to the Paper City, first to run and walk on Saturday afternoon, and then for several hours Sunday afternoon for the 70th annual parade.

As always, the weather is unpredictable.

“I’m trying to literally ignore the weather forecast for now,” said Karen Casey, president of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Association, in an interview with the Gazette. “I don’t want to act concerned about the weather, but I am a little bit.”

Though temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s on Sunday, Casey said she still expected a strong turnout for the parade, which has drawn hundreds of thousands of spectators over the decades and is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the Northeastern United States. Past participants have included former U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.

The 46th annual St. Patrick’s 10K road race begins Saturday at 1 p.m at the intersection of Maple and Lyman streets, with a 2-mile walk kicking off directly following the runners.

Later in the day, at 4:45 p.m., there will be a laying of a wreath ceremony at the JFK Memorial Plaza at the intersection of Appleton and Sycamore streets, followed by a JFK award Mass at St. Jerome’s Church, 169 Hampden St., at 5:30 p.m.

The association will also bestow on Saturday its John F. Kennedy National Award, an award given to an American of Irish descent who “has distinguished themselves in their chosen field,” according to the association. The award is named after the former president, who himself received the award when he was a senator.

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The award this year was handed to Lenny Jacobson, a television actor and Holyoke native who has appeared in numerous roles including the ongoing Apple TV series “For All Mankind” and also appeared in shows like “Nurse Jackie” and “NCIS.”

“It’s an added bonus that he [Jacobson] is from Holyoke,” said Casey. “He comes back here often, and he has a lot of friends and family here. So I think that will be a good thing for him.”

The awards reception takes place Saturday at 6:45 p.m. (social hour begins at 6 p.m.) at the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road.

Sunday will begin with a breakfast at the Wyckoff Country Club at 7:30 a.m. with the parade set to be broadcast live at 12 p.m. starting from Holyoke High School. Delegations from surrounding cities and towns such as Westfield, Northampton and South Hadley will participate in the parade.

The parade’s grand marshal this year is a familiar face to many in the association: Jane Coughlin Chevalier, a victim’s witness advocate at the Hampden district attorney’s office. A resident of South Hadley, Chevalier’s father, Edward “Pop” Coughlin, served as grand marshal of the parade in 1992.

“She’s been involved with the association for many, many years, she’s worked on a lot of committees and she’s at every event,” said Casey regarding Chevalier. “She’s also a very good friend of mine, so I’m really excited.”

Prior to 2020, the parade drew upward of 400,000 people to the event. It was then canceled in 2020 in 2021 due to the pandemic, but returned last year with full festivities.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.

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