“What’s your favorite Irish song?” asked Mark Murphy.
“Oh, Danny Boy,” was the reply.
And that’s all it took for the man who has been the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ringwood singer since the mid-1990s to break out into song in a clear tenor that nearly overloaded the phone’s speaker.
Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling | From glen to glen and down the mountain side.
On March 25, Murphy, of Erskine Lake, will be leading the 28th annual parade -- the only St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Passaic County -- as its grand marshal.
Murphy, 55, said he was “highly honored” to be selected by the parade committee to be grand marshal of the event, which he said is particularly special “because it represents a marking of the passage of time in gratitude to a deserving community.” That is underscored by pre-parade festivities that honor people past and present. A past honoree is Jeremy Glick, a West Milford resident who was a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and crashed in Pennsylvania. Glick is credited with helping to come up with a plan to take back the plane from the hijackers.
This year’s Outstanding Citizen is Ringwood Borough Manager Scott Heck, a lifelong Ringwood resident, former mayor and big supporter of the parade, said parade committee member Donna Ricker Anderson.
The Parade Dedication will be in honor of Monsignor Patrick Panos of St. Catherine’s of Bologna in Ringwood, who died in September.
Murphy, a salesman by day who has sung for the parade each year, as well as for many community events, said Ringwood does its parade in style, and it's a great way for people to associate with their roots.
He recalled when the parade ended up at Danny Driscoll’s Old Forge Pub and people would crowd in to celebrate as bagpipes played.
A well-known resident, Pat Fisher, would memorably yell: “Driscoll, it’s the only uphill parade in the country!” Murphy said.
The route changed as the event grew. It ends now up at St. Catherine’s and is followed by a family celebration community event.
Together, Murphy said, “It all just kind of takes your breath away.”
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