The last hope for a St. Patrick’s Day parade this season was dashed with the cancellation of the parade in North Wildwood.

In a normal year it would be the season for parades across the state. But with Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order limiting outdoor gatherings to just 25 it was impossible to hold a parade. One by one, the parades from Belmar to Seaside Heights to Woodbridge to Hamilton were called off.

The Angelsea Irish Society, which organizes the North Wildwood parade, initially planned to hold their parade on Saturday and take advantage of a loophole of sorts in which there was no limit for outdoor religious gatherings.

Until they also canceled in favor of an observance Mass at St. Ann Church of Notre Dame De La Parish.

"After discussions with the City of North Wildwood, our members and the larger community, we felt that this year it was more important than ever to hold an event that reflects the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day,” society president Joe Rullo said.

North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello took responsibility for some confusion.

"This was never the city talking about having a parade. It was private organizations that approached the city and said 'hey, would you support us if we applied to host this event?' and we said, absolutely we'll support you. Ultimately they decided to not apply to have a parade," Rosenello said.

The mayor said that St. Patrick's Day is a unique holiday in that it's both a Catholic day and a cultural event.

"I've had a fair enough amount of people express they are happy this event is focusing on the religious aspects of St. Patrick's Day and I've had multiple people say we can always go back to the parade next year but we hope that this Mass becomes part of the traditions going forward," Rosenello said.

The next big event up for North Wildwood is the Fallen Heroes Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, April 10. Beyond that, Rosenello said he has not been involved with any conversations with the governor's office about making decisions about expanding gathering capacities.

"There are some large outdoor events planned for this summer and obviously there's a lot of questions as to what the governor's executive orders will look like. And you have the president saying the whole country will be vaccinated by May," Rosenello, a Republican, said. "But to use the governor's own words, 'that's above my pay grade.'"

Murphy told CNBC on Thursday that he is optimistic that as long as vaccines remain available he expects a "much more normal summer on the shore."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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