He has since its inception worked tirelessly for the advancement of programs and initiatives of the Morris County chapter of The Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick.
But, this year, Richard Smith has been able to take a break–that is, if you consider being the Grand Marshal of the Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade in Morristown, and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it, taking a break.
"The parade committee and all of the 70-plus people working on the parade have been preparing for months and months," the Morris Township resident said. "The Grand Marshal is lucky enough to enjoy."
It's about time for the Newark native, who was one of the founding members of the Morris County Chapter of the Irish organization, which help its first meeting in 1986. The Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick serve as one-half the organizing bodies of the biggest St. Patrick's Day parade in this area, along with the Irish Association of Northwest New Jersey, of which Smith also is a member.
Smith has moved through the Irish cultural committee ranks over the span of his involvement, from finance committee, to President of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, which then brought him to an active role in the parade committee. "Every committee you can think of I've been involved in," he said. "I just enjoy doing it."
Smith said the Grand Marshal is selected among those "that have contributed to the Irish culture and Irish community."
He said he found out he was selected for the honor the morning of his 61st birthday. "It was awesome. I woke up, got a call at 7:30 a.m. asking if I wanted the honor, and I said 'of course.'"
Since the Grand Marshal gets to step away from the less-glamorous aspects of putting together such a major event as the Morris County parade, he has the opportunity to represent it at various events, including the recent St. Patrick's Day party held by Morris County Sheriff Ed Rochford, an Emerald Society brunch, and a recent radio interview for the WMTR radio station. Smith also recently sat down for dinner with Gov. Chris Christie.
"There are a lot of things, it's a lot of fun," he said.
The build-up has been a lot of fun for the Irishman, who now gets to represent possibly the biggest St. Patrick's Day parade in all of New Jersey.
"This is a new one for me," he said. "I've always worked on the parade. I've marched in the parade, but I've never actually seen it. We'll be able to go on to the reviewing stand and watch it, for the first time. I'm looking forward to that."
"I'm honored," Smith said.