(March 15, 2013) Ocean City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade traditionally takes place on the Saturday before the holiday. Because March 17 falls on a Sunday this year, parade coordinator Buck Mann anticipates the celebration one day prior will draw a significant crowd.
“It’s going to be the biggest and the best. We’re up about 15 percent [parade participants] from last year,” he said. “The way [St. Patrick’s Day] falls on the weekend, it makes for a whole weekend of festivities. We’re expecting a tremendous crowd.”
Sponsored by the Delmarva Irish-American Club, the 32nd annual parade will begin at noon on 58th Street. Participants will travel south on Coastal Highway to 45th Street, where an Irish festival — complete with traditional Irish food, such as corned beef, and drinks, including green beer, Guinness and Irish coffees — will take place.
The festival will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until about 4 p.m. There will be holiday attire available, as well as entertainment provided by Pat Garvey.
The resort event, Maryland’s second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, will feature approximately 120 entries this year. Participants will be coming from all across Maryland, as well as from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
The parade was not always as big as it is today. During its inaugural procession, the parade featured just five or six walkers. The following year, it grew to include a Pontiac convertible and four waitresses from McGee’s, the local Irish bar now known as Shenanigan’s Irish Pub.
Located on the Boardwalk at Fourth Street, Shenanigan’s continues to be part of the annual celebration. Other area businesses that will sponsor floats in the parade include Seacrets, Hooters, BJ’s on the Water, Greene Turtle, Pepper’s Tavern, BJ’s on the Water, Ocean 98.1 and the Grand Hotel.
Local clubs and organizations such as the DIAC, Raven Roosts, Maryland Coastal Bays, Delmarva Emerald Society, Sons of Italy and American Legions, among others, will also be represented.
The Chesapeake Caledonia Pipe and Drum Band, the Ocean City Pipe Band and Stephen Decatur and Sussex Central high schools’ marching bands will provide just some of the musical entertainment.
This year, a St. Patrick’s Day hat, big enough to hold 1,724 pints of stout, will be featured in the parade. The hat is made up of more than 19 square feet of paper mache and 10 pounds of glitter, weighs nearly 200 pounds and took more than three weeks to create.
Requesting world record book status, CPRDelaware’s float will also include baby and adult CPR manikins celebrating the day under a rainbow and a pot of gold claiming “Erin Learned CPR, because you can’t always depend on luck,” according to a press release. The floats creators, Glenn (Burns) Bisogno and Evelyn Bisogno are members of the Delmarva Irish-American Club.
Spectators may watch the parade from along the street or from the bleachers set up at the 45th Street shopping center. Judges will be stationed at 45th Street to evaluate parade participants.
The top marching band, commercial float, non-commercial float, motorized unit, best adult and youth marching unit, special committee award and best overall entry in the parade will receive trophies.
Wayne Cannon will serve as parade emcee.
John and Molly O’Brien are the 2013 parade grand marshals. They have been active members of the Delmarva Irish-American Club for more than 10 years. John is the vice-president of the club, serves on the board of directors and runs the DIAC Web site. Molly works behind the scenes, serving as the parade-day face-painter. She also makes Irish-inspired crafts to sell at the parade.
According to the demoflush statistics, which uses wastewater flows to estimate the city’s population, 108,907 people were in town during parade weekend last year. The 2012 parade was held March 17.
Mann describes the town’s atmosphere on parade day as “fun.”
“It’s a party weekend,” he said.
The Delmarva Irish-American Club, founded in 1980, has a membership of more than 300. Anyone who is Irish, Irish at heart or who just appreciates Irish things may join. The club has awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships to local students from the proceeds of previous parades.
For more information, visit www.delmarvairish.org or call Mann at 410-289-6156.