We’ve been covering the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade since 2006 … hard to believe. Over the years, we’ve shot thousands of pictures, from bagpipe bands to dancers to county societies to Mummers, and so much more.
Since we can’t celebrate the parade this year, we thought it might be fun to take a look back at the parade through our photos. You might see someone you know … maybe even yourself. Photos by Denise Foley, Gwyneth MacArthur and yours truly, Jeff Meade.
With COVID-19 still very much an issue and a city moratorium on large gatherings in effect, the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day 250th parade is postponed until next March.
But fear not—you’ll probably be able to get your parade fix, at least in a little way.
The Philly parade was the first major event to be canceled in the city last year when the pandemic first started to take root. It was a major disappointment, but completely understandable. Making the same call this year also made sense, says Michael J. Bradley, Jr., a member of the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association’s executive committee and parade director from 2002 to 2019.
The saying goes, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know.
Within the Irish community, one of the busiest people—if not the busiest—is longtime Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade director Michael J. Bradley, Jr. Bradley has directed the parade since 2002, a time of incredible growth and no small amount of tightly scripted organization, largely dictated by the needs of the television stations that have broadcast the parade.
His son, Colin, is directing the parade this year, but Bradley remains a diligent behind-the-scenes player.
As if coordinating the parade was not enough, Bradley oversees M.J. Bradley Company, Inc., a firm founded by his father Mickey and mother Bernadette, that installs epoxy flooring in venues from research and educational institutions all the way up to stadiums. For most people, that would be plenty. A first-generation student of Penn State—class of 1978—he remains deeply involved in his alma mater, having served on Penn State Brandywine’s advisory board for well about 30 years. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more devoted Nittany Lion than Michael Bradley. (Almost 20 family members, from his sons to nephews and nieces, are or have been Penn State students.)
He also has assumed a leadership position in efforts to keep open and improve the quality of Delaware County’s Catholic schools at a time when an archdiocesan blue ribbon panel was recommending the closure of over 40 parish schools, including five from Delco. He has also served on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Executive Board of Elementary Education, along with the Cardinal O’Hara High School board.
It’s been a few years since we covered the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I missed it. Aside from an opportunity to snag a lot of really fun photos, it’s also old home week, where I ran into old friends I might not have seen for a while. Missed them, too.
Without further ado … here are all the pictures I took. Hope you see yourself somewhere in the mix. Click on the arrows above.
Philadelphia Saint Patrick’s Day Observance Association Proudly Announces Congratulations to 2019 Philadelphia Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Award Winners:
Hon. James H.J. Tate Award
(Founded 1980, this was named the Enright Award Prior to 1986)
Sponsored by: Mike Driscoll Outstanding Organization that Exemplifies the Spirit of the Parade
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia / Neumann University
Msgr. Thomas J. Rilley Award (Founded 1980) Outstanding Fraternal Organization Sponsored by: AOH Division 39 Msgr. Thomas J. Rilley
Joseph Fleming Memorial Brigade