Anticipation has been high for this year’s Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Parade. Having blissfully escaped a harsh winter, March signified to some Louisvillians that the threat of the white fluffy stuff was over.
Shovels and salt bags were stowed away in the shed. Hats, scarves and winter coats were tucked into closets. Even nature was fooled, as buds began to sprout just last week. And then, on Monday, we checked the weather: 90 percent chance of snow on Saturday with a high temperature of 37 degrees.
So what does that mean for our Saturday afternoon fantasies of frolicking along Bardstown Road during the People’s Parade?
“The parade will go on regardless of weather. The weather never stopped the Irish,” says John O’Dwyer, president of the Louisville division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. “This is also the Midwest, so if you don’t like the weather, wait a half hour. We are used to it here.”
O’Dwyer suggests doing the opposite of freaking out about the snow and just dress accordingly.
And it might be a good time to stop in one of the many local businesses on the parade route — which goes from the intersection of Baxter and Broadway to Mid City Mall starting at 3 p.m. — where you can find anything from pizza to popsicles to bangers and mash.
The parade consists of 133 entrants, says O’Dwyer, which is just a little more than the 125 they prefer. But everything should run on time for the three hours the streets will be closed. Last year, more than 100,000 people came to either watch or participate in the event, and it even rained earlier in the day.
“It would be a disservice to the people, businesses and our sponsors if we canceled the event,” he says. “There is so much everyone puts into this parade — it just cannot be stopped and restarted at another time.”
O’Dwyer believes there are several reasons why the parade resonates with so many people. First and foremost, it’s an homage to St. Patrick’s Day.
“The old saying is that Irish throw the party and everyone who is not Irish gets to be for one day,” he says.
Secondly, it’s the local aspect of the parade so many can rally behind. It’s a nonprofit endeavor, and the Hibernians help raise money for charities in the area. And while a third reason — a sign spring is near — might not be the case this year, O’Dwyer mentions one last point.
“Perhaps the most important reason is this truly is a people’s parade,” he says. “We cater to the people and not corporations. We present units that include music, family clans, charity groups, schools, sports teams and, yes, some businesses, to name a few. People can relate to the parade because it is their neighbor in it. It is a time everyone forgets differences and can just come to celebrate each other.”
Sounds like a solid reason to grab a sweater and head to the Highlands on Saturday, March 11. Check the parade’s Facebook event page for last-minute details.