The St. Patrick’s Committee of West Springfield is an association formed to promote the history of the 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.
The Committee produces the event that selects a Colleen and court members and builds award winning floats that are showcased in the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade. We also honor townspeople that have helped to enhance the town or our committee. Our honorees include West Springfield Parade Marshal ( must be of Irish descent), Citizenship Award (non-Irish descent), Old Mittineague Award (business) and ‘Jinx’ Powers Award ( committee member). We are also very proud to award 7 students scholarships totaling $2500.00.
We are always looking for new members and welcome anyone who wishes to join our endeavors. The committee holds several fundraising events but also needs donations from town businesses and individuals. We are a non-profit organization and are 501 c3 recognized by the state and federal governments.
In 1959, a group of men came together to form the original West Springfield Parade Committee. Thomas “Jinx” Powers, Raymond DiStefano , and Robert Collins ( father of committee member Bob Collins) were the first to build floats and select a Colleen and Court.They selected Audrey Dodge as the 1st Colleen and Kathleen Kennedy, Joanne Begley,Carol Arsenault and Anne Murray as the 1st Court. These ladies were presented in the Holyoke Parade riding a large ship – ” Shannon O’er the Sea to Eire”. Their second year the committee built a plane – ” To Eire by Air” . They did not have a Colleen or Court because the float was ridden by 4 stewardess from the Irish Airlines. In 1961 , the committee selected the 1st Town Marshal -Thomas “Jinx” Powers” and built the float ” Music in Eire” featuring fiddles and drums . The 1960 and 1961 floats were Grand prize winners(see float pictures) . However, that Parade Committee stopped functioning after 1962 butthey 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 lead 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, Citizen , Olde Mittineague , and “Jinx” Powers awardees to the Holyoke 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 lead by several Presidents Gerry Healy, Maryruth Kane, Arleen Collins, Lexine Detz, Bill Joseph and Amie Chrzanowski, Christopher Thompson.
I would like to thank Gerry Healy and Bob Collins for their contributions to this brief history.