Prepared by Parade Historian: Gary Duncan
The 1962 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Scranton in over fifty years!
As historian I would be remiss not to dedicate this article to the memory of the seven individuals who organized the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Scranton. They are: Frank P. Foley, Maurice M. Cawley, Edmund J. Casey, Peter J. Doyle, James Eagen, Charles Kirst, and James J. McGee.
The idea for the local St. Patrick’s Day parade was brought from Savannah, Georgia by the president of the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day Parade Association, Frank P. Foley, who happened to be in Savannah in 1961 on St. Patrick’s Day. Upon his return to the Electric City, he became an enthusiastic advocate of a local parade honoring the patron saint of Ireland-St. Patrick.
Mr. Foley was the Grand Knight of the Scranton Knights of Columbus & it was through his efforts that the Knights sponsored the original parade (1962). Mr. Foley was elected its first president and he was re-elected for a one-year term every year thereafter.
That first year, on Saturday, March 17, 1962, the eve of the parade brought several inches of snow to the area. All about parade headquarters were noted to be “gloomy.” However, at approximately 8 AM, the sun poked its head out from behind “a maze of clouds,” and saw so many smiling Irish folk ready for a fine time that it is said, old Sol smiled as well. The first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Scranton in over fifty years was held in “the downtown.” The parade was thirteen blocks long, with the reviewing stand on the Adams Avenue side of the Lackawanna County Courthouse. Captain John McGrone of the Scranton Police Department estimated that “the crowd of about 40,000 was the largest seen in Scranton in many, many years.” There were twelve divisions in that first parade with each division having a “leader,” who was a noted individual within the community.
The Officers of the Day were as follows:
James McGee Chairman
Charles Kirst Co-Chairman
Peter Doyle Co-Chairman
Frank Foley Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus and Parade Chairman
Judge T. Linus Hoban Parade Marshal
Edward J. Lynett Honorary Parade Marshal