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St. Patrick’s Day Parade Delivers Again

A parade float makes it’s way downtown.

One of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the Southeast, perhaps the second biggest according to Event Zone’s Larry Landolt in the past, had everyone feeling a bit Irish last Saturday. That’s when the 20th Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, now accompanied by a Celtic Festival, occupied the streets of downtown Roanoke.

First up was an attempt to set a record for the world’s largest Riverdance demonstration of Irish music, and while that effort may have fell a bit short, several hundred people of all ages did gamely line up for a few minutes of instruction from performance artist Beth Deel and others.  After a few practice runs and a three minute or so routine it was over;  then the parade starting coursing its way down Jefferson Street.

Thousands lined the streets to watch more than 70 floats, bands and dignitaries go by, everyone from members of City Council (including all three Democrat candidates for open seats in May) and, of course, Mayor David Bowers. 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte and wife Maryellen, a local attorney, also made an appearance, as did veterans of war, civic groups and neighborhood associations. Early morning rain gave way to partly sunny if somewhat cool conditions, but all in all it was good parade-viewing weather.

A panel of judges rated the parade participants for such things as creativity, enthusiasm, patriotism – and Celticness. Among the winners: the Sons of Norway, believe or not, were rated as the “Best Celtic” entry.  Parrots of the Blue Ridge were the Best Nonprofit, Old Southwest had the Best Neighborhood entry, Liberty Tax Service was the Best Business participant and Post 64, 29th Infantry Division Association was Most Patriotic.

Afterwards thousands stayed downtown for the Celtic Festival, while others checked out the Farmers Market or took advantage of a free family day at the Taubman Museum of Art.

By Gene Marrano
[email protected]

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