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Rolling Tradition: Garden State Roller Derby St. Patrick's Day Parade

Mar 26, 2024
Garden State Roller Derby in Harrison NJ

In a vibrant fusion of athletic prowess and festive spirit, the Garden State Roller Derby (GSR) teams took to the streets alongside floats and marching bands in the United Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday, March 10, 2024. This marked a significant departure from their usual battlegrounds—flat tracks where agility, strategy, and strength determine the victor. The towns of Harrison, East Newark, and Kearny, New Jersey, bore witness to this unique blend of sportsmanship and celebration, as the roller derby teams skated through the heart of the parade, adding a modern twist to the traditional festivities. 

Garden State Roller Derby, known as New Jersey’s premier flat-track roller derby league, comprises approximately 40 skaters divided among two traveling teams—the Ironbound Maidens and the Brick City Bruisers—and three home teams, including the latest addition, the Gateway Grim Reapers. These athletes, who usually compete in the high-intensity, full-contact sport known for its rapid jammers and formidable blockers, took on a different challenge this St. Patrick's Day: engaging with the community in a display of solidarity and celebration.

Roller derby, experiencing a significant revival worldwide, is a sport that demands both physical skill and strategic thinking. With nearly 1500 teams globally, it has evolved into a powerhouse of entertainment and athletic competition. The bouts, consisting of two 30-minute periods divided into jams, see players in roles of jammers and blockers, with the former scoring points by lapping opponents and the latter using tactical maneuvers to prevent their advance. 

The inclusion of the Garden State Roller teams in the parade was not merely a showcase of their athletic skills but also an outreach to the community, promoting the sport and inviting spectators to experience the thrill of a live bout. As the skaters demonstrated their maneuvers—sans the usual contact, to fit the parade's friendly atmosphere—the crowd was treated to a glimpse of the strategic depth and physicality of roller derby. 

As the parade concluded, the impact of the GSR teams' participation was clear. The blend of traditional celebration with the modern spectacle of roller derby captured the imagination of the townspeople, creating new fans and deepening the community's appreciation for both the sport and the athletes who dedicate themselves to it. The St. Patrick's Day parade, enriched by the presence of these skilled roller derby athletes, affirmed the growing bond between the Garden State Roller Derby and the residents of Harrison, East Newark, and Kearny, marking a new chapter in the parade's storied history and the sport's local legacy. 

Catch a Game ln North Arlington

The Garden State Derby is having a Double Header game on Saturday, May 18, 2024, starting at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at The Inline Skating of America in North Arlington, 170 Schuyler Avenue, North Arlington NJ.  First game: Brick City Bruisers v. Violet Uprising followed by the main event Ironbound Maidens v. Purple Rain. Tickets are available by following this link

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