The St. Patrick’s Committee of West Springfield is a volunteer committee formed to promote the history of Irish culture. We create programs and events that advance our Irish heritage and recognize town citizens that have contributed to the advancement of the entire town.
Our committee hosts events that select a Colleen and her court members, design and build award winning floats to be showcased in the annual Holyoke St. Patrick Parade. We recognize and honor townspeople who have helped to enhance the town and our committee. Our yearly honorees include the Parade Marshal (a person of Irish decent), the Citizenship Award (a non-Irish town person), the Olde Mittineague Award (a business exemplifying Irish culture), the “Jinx” Powers Award (a committee member) and a Float Designer Award (from the West Springfield Middle School 8th grade class). We are also very proud to award 7 different student scholarship awards totaling $ 4000.00.
Our committee welcomes new members and volunteers to join, so bring your passion, your skill and talents. The committee holds several fundraiser events, and we accept donations from town businesses and individuals. We are a qualified 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization
In 1959, a group of men came together to form the original West Springfield Parade Committee. Thomas “Jinx” Powers, Raymond DiStefano, and Robert Collins were the first to build floats and select a Colleen and Court. Selected were Audrey Dodge, our first Colleen and her court of Kathleen Kennedy, Joanne Begley, Carol Arsenault and Anne Murray. These ladies were presented in the Holyoke Parade aboard the ship “Shannon O’er the Sea to Erie”. Year two float was a plane named “To Erie by Air” ridden on by a stewardess crew from Irish Airlines. In 1961, the towns’ first marshal was named Jinx Powers and he led the town float “Music by Erie” featuring drums and fiddles. The 1960 and 1961 floats were Grand prize winners (see float pictures) . However, that Parade Committee stopped functioning after 1962 but they were the inspiration for the next generation.
In 1984, Gerald Healy and Fred “Doc” Conlin came together and formed the present West Springfield Parade Committee. This second group of people have had years of success building award-winning floats, selecting Colleens and Courts and raising money for yearly scholarships.
Over the last 31 years, we have selected 155 wonderful and deserving Colleens and Court members to represent our town at various events. The scholarships awarded include the Colleen, four Court members, a contestant in the Colleen pageant, and one for any senior at West Springfield High School. We are very proud that we are approaching $60,000 in scholarships.
The floats have won 9 Grand Prizes, 7 Best Colleen Float, and 9 first Place Irish, all distinguished awards. The floats themselves have contributed to the Town. The 1987 float “The Gazabo” is still seen on the Town Common across from the Post Office. Many floats have been in the town’s Memorial Day Parade and the Big E parades. Over the years the float makers have been led by Gerry Healy, Tom Lagodich, Fred Guzik, Bill Joseph, Chris Thompson and Robert McNamara.
We have honored many of our town citizens and businesses who have contributed their time or money to serve the people of West Springfield. The Committee has been proud to present our Marshal, Citizenship, Olde Mittineague, “Jinx” Powers and Float Designer awardees to the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade. They have all been huge contributors to the wellbeing of the town. (See award list)
Our committee continues to grow. In the last 31 years, we have had many members contribute ideas, time and labor. The Committee has been led by several Presidents Gerry Healy, Maryruth Kane, Arleen Collins, Lexine Detz, Bill Joseph and Amie Chrzanowski, Christopher Thompson, Karen Demers.
A special “Thank you” to all those who have contributed a memory to our Irish history.