Dozens gather at JFK memorial leading up to St. Patrick’s Parade

The parade committee honored the president in 1958

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The traditions leading up to the Holyoke’s St. Patrick’s Day parade continued late Saturday with the laying of the Wreath at the JFK memorial in Holyoke.

Parade Committee President Michael Moriarty told 22News that John F. Kennedy was the first Irish American person to be elected President and he restored hope to Irish Americans across the country, especially here in western Massachusetts.

Dozens of people gathered in Holyoke at the JFK memorial to pay their respects to our 35th President. It’s an annual event that’s very important for the city.

JFK was the first Catholic Irish American president. He was also a Purple Heart recipient.

The parade committee honored the president in 1958, where he rode in the St. Patrick’s Parade. Shortly after his assassination, his memorial was set up in Holyoke.

Moriarty told 22News that JFK gave Irish Americans hope. He said, “I was raised in an Irish household that remembered John F. Kennedy as the moment that was their moment. That this was the time that one of our own was leading the nation with a ton of positive energy.”

This year’s JFKennedy award recipient is actress Ann Dowd. Dowd will lead the 66th annual Holyoke St. Patrick’s parade on Sunday. She was honored Saturday night at the JFK dinner at the Log Cabin.

Dowd also makes history as the first women from Holyoke to be given this prestigious award.

After the laying of the wreath, attendees walked a short distance to attend the Bishop’s Mass at nearby St. Jerome church.