By Kevin Callahan
MT. HOLLY – The Mayor of Mt. Holly, Jason Jones, sure looked like the most popular and appropriately dressed man Saturday afternoon at the Burlington County 13th annual St. Patrick’s Parade.
Jones wore a brilliant bright matching kelly green pants, jacket and tie that were covered with a darker shade of green shamrocks. His splendid suit surely caught the eye of the thousand of parade goers and he seemingly shook everyone’s hand who lined High Street in the middle of Mt. Holly.
But the popular mayor wasn’t just surrounded by neighbors, friends and family, Jones was flanked by union and trade workers who turned out in large numbers to support the parade and local businesses. Jones is also a member of I.B.E.W. Local 269 out of Trenton.
“It’s an honor to be able to host the St. Patty’s Day Parade for Burlington County in Mt. Holly,” said the 35-year-old Jones, who entered the Local 269 after graduating from Rancocas Valley High School. “It’s a privilege to have my union brothers and sisters support us with our community affairs.”
For Jones, union ties run deep in his family.
His grandfather, Leon Jones, returned to Mt. Holly from the Korean War with a Purple Heart and became a union bricklayer in October of 1952.
The mayor’s father, Leon Jr., and his two brothers, Kyle and Lance, are also members of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union of New Jersey. Leon Jr. is now a Bricklayers Local 5 union leader.
Jones said there were “five or six” different unions supporting the parade and Mt. Holly.
“They are supportive of this parade and they are supportive of other parades because our union members are from these areas,” Jones said while waving to friendly folks and with bagpipes wailing in the background. “They give back to the communities in a big way.”
Brian Kamp, the Business Representative with Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 27, said there were close to 40 members marching in the parade.
“We support the parade because the towns and the county support us,” said Kamp. “They believe in higher skilled local labor and it’s the towns like Mt. Holly that believe in the circle of money.
“If you keep your resources close, it reinvests back into where the money starts.”
In addition to the strong support, the union marchers and parade watchers were having just plain old fashion family fun on this chilly March day.
“It’s the camaraderie of us all getting together in a social atmosphere,” said Kamp, who lives in Mt. Laurel. “The guys all see each other from the job sites, so there is a social aspect to it. It also lets the town know we are your neighbors.
“Our members our your sons and daughters coaches, we are part of the community and sitting on different boards, some of our members give their time as public servants in elected offices. We are not just here to take your money and build your job, we are here to give back and be part of the community.”
Kamp gave back praise to Burlington County.
“The Burlington County Freeholders not only believe in ‘buy local’ but their motto is also ‘build local’ with skilled local labor.”
Peter Scribner, a member of Local Union 27, has been driving from his home in Mays Landing for the last “three or four years” to march in the mile-long parade down the hilly street of historic Mt. Holly.
“We give support and more importantly they support working families and labor,” Scribner said about Mt. Holly.
Scribner’s sons, James (14) and Nathan (17) carried the Local Union 27 banner like they have been doing the past few years.
“We’re looking to make a living and support our families,” Scribner continued on the appreciation he holds for Mt. Holly. “A livable wage is necessary to pay taxes, buy homes and support the community.”
Wayne DeAngelo, the President of the Mercer-Burlington Building & Construction Trades Council, said it was “fantastic” to see “the diversity of the building trade councils for Burlington County and Mercer County coming down here along with public sectors and private sectors and unions marching.”
After the parade there was a labor reception at the Communications Workers of America Local 1036 Burlington County Office off of High Street.
“The building trade council represents 15 different construction trade crafts,” DeAngelo explained. “And then we have our telephone workers and we have members of the public sector and CWA Local 1036 here, so we have all kind of public and private and construction trades marching in solidarity.
“We had about 75 individuals marching with their families from the various crafts from labor and the various trades,” continued DeAngelo, who is also the assistant business manager/president of the IBEW Local 269.
Members of IBEW Local 269 and Local Union 27 all shared food and laughs with CWA 1036 after the parade.
“We had a nice turnout for a very frigid day,” added DeAngelo, “and it’s warm inside with all the camaraderie right now.”
And the camaraderie at the labor reception was also colorful with Mayor Jones’ splendid Kelly green suit.
“We all come from different communities,” Jones said, “but we all come together for a great event like this that supports local businesses along with the residents of Mt. Holly.”