The Springfield Parade Committee consists of several sub-committees, such as the Coronation Ball and Awards Ceremony, where the award recipients are formally honored and the Springfield Colleen is crowned; The Marshall’s Reception, where our Parade Marshall is honored and receives the “walking stick” from the previous year’s Marshall, and the Mass and Flag Raising Committees, which sponsor our St. Patrick’s Day Mass in honor of our patron saint, and follows with the Irish Flag Raising ceremony at Springfield City Hall.
The Float sub-committee builds and decorates our Irish themed float. Our float is built by our members, assisted by local contractors, and our colleens help decorate it. The Springfield Colleen and members of her Court proudly ride atop our float in the Holyoke Parade.In addition, throughout the years, the committee and colleens have participated in many civic activities, such as the East Longmeadow Fourth of July Parade and the Springfield Big Balloon Parade. A highlight of the summer season is the appearance of our colleens at the John Boyle O’Reilly Club’s Irish Music Festival.
The City of Springfield sends the largest contingent to the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade and the Springfield Parade Committee leads this delegation with Irish pride.
In 1962, a small group of Irishmen wishing to promote their love for their Irish heritage formed the Springfield St. Patrick’s Parade Committee. Among those instrumental in the formation of this committee were the late Congressman, Edward P. Boland, and the late Springfield Newspaper reporter, Frank B. Murray. The committee commenced by selecting the first Springfield Parade Marshall, Dennis Brunton. Parade Marshalls must be of Irish decent and someone who has distinguished himself or herself in their chosen profession. The only exception to this criteria was in 1992 when the late Paul G. Caron, who was not Irish, served as Parade Marshall. This honor was bestowed on him as the founder of the Springfield Colleen Contest.
The Colleen Contest began in 1968 with the crowning of our first Springfield Colleen, the late Ann Marie Kennedy.
As the parade committee evolved, the John J. Burke Award developed. This award is given for exemplary service to the Irish community of the City of Springfield. In recent years this award was re-named to include Agnes Burke. Mr. and Mrs. Burke had a lifelong commitment to their Irish heritage and were prominent members of the community.
In 1980 the Parade Committee created the Paul G. Caron Award to memorialize the invaluable commitment to the committee by the founder of the Colleen contest. This award is presented annually to a parade committee member who has exhibited exceptional service to our committee. Our most recent award is the Appreciation Award which is presented each year to an individual or business who is not a member of our committee but has given distinguished support to our community.
As the Springfield Parade Committee grew more encompassing, a scholarship was established. It soon became known as the Harry and Marie Gaumond Scholarship, dedicated in honor of the Gaumonds, who at the time were the longest standing committee members and were an inspiration to the members of our committee.The Gaumond Scholarship is now retired and the Mossie and Kathleen Murphy Scholarship was endowed by businessman and 1999 Parade Marshall, Dennis Murphy, in memory of his parents.