St Patricks Day Parade Party
In 2002 the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade Party was held at an apartment on Mount Washington. About 20-30 folks gathered as early as 7:00am to begin celebrating our Irish roots. As you should know even those with no Irish ancestry are encouraged to be Irish on this day. And so, the party grew. In March of 2003 I became a homeowner, and in less than two weeks my townhouse in The Hill District served as the host to over 70 people. By March of 2004 the party continued to grow and was attracting friends and family from out of state numbering over 100… By 2005 life had changed in so many ways. I was living in Detroit on a work assignment that started in April of 2004. Then, on July 14th, 2004 a great friend of mine, a great friend of many, a great son and brother died, tragically at the age of 28. John “JB” Mason was a native and lifelong resident of New Kensington. He graduated from Valley High School and the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Accounting.
JB Mason Memorial Fund
A group of us founded the JB Mason Memorial Fund, and were determined to preserve JB’s legacy… As 2004 ended and 2005 came I was encouraged by many people to continue The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Party. It was becoming tradition to many. With the help of some friends, some good timing, and some luck of the Irish we were able to rent space in downtown Pittsburgh, just a block and a half from Market Square, the hallowed partying grounds of the parade. To fund the party, I had to ask the guests to donate. It was decided that if there were any funds left over after paying for the party, that they would be donated to the JB Mason Memorial Fund. In 2005, we donated over $500 to the JB Mason Memorial Fund, and using money raised from prior solicitations we awarded two $500 scholarships to graduating seniors from Valley High School, Endia Vereen and Ellyse Williams, who filed an application for the scholarship, and completed our essay question “How has growing up in the New Kensington–Arnold area impacted your life, and what effect will it have on your future?”
The party continued to grow, we continued raising more funds, and we expanded the scholarship to $1,000 from 2006 to 2014. It was on January 3, 2014 that another classmate of the 1995 Valley Vikings tragically lost his life in an automobile accident, Edward Michael Nee III. Ed was my cousin and lifelong friend, and Ed had a wealth of friends and family who loved him dearly and wanted his legacy to carry on. Many of those friends also were already dedicated to preserving J.B.’s legacy. The 2014 party was bittersweet as it was the biggest fundraising year for the group, but it was in part because so many contributors reconnected mourning the loss of Ed. It was only fitting at that point to rename the scholarship the J.B. Mason / E. M. Nee III to honor both J.B. and Ed. And so, in 2015 we increased the scholarship award to $2,500 where it remains. While the future is unwritten we are committed to maintaining this scholarship with aspirations to grow it and be part of the fabric of the New Kensington-Arnold school district. And we are continuing to carry on the legacy of J.B. and Ed. -Matthew Nee