Feb. 22, 2006 – It's time to get out the green T-shirts, bowler hats and shamrocks because St. Croix's 37th annual St. Patrick's Day parade is on the way.
Although St. Patrick's Day falls on March 17, the parade will be held the following day, which is a Saturday.
The parade will begin from the Christiansted waterfront at 11 a.m. and go up Company Street, across Market Square, where it turns right on King Street, and back to the waterfront. The floats and troupes will be judged at the waterfront reviewing stand, according to Darryl Gross, one of the parade coordinators.
This year's grand marshal is Mary Simpson, owner of Southerland Travel/American Express in Gallows Bay. So far about 20 entries have signed up for the parade. Gross said he is expecting at least 10 additional entries. "People like to surprise us at the last minute," he said.
More than just green beer and raucous music, the parade is a time to raise funds for worthy charities. Gross said the committee is still contemplating this year's beneficiaries. Past recipients have included the V.I. Special Olympics and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Organizers raise funds throughout the year by selling commemorative T-shirts and holding food sales.
On the Big Island, the parade had it's beginnings in the old Harry's Office Bar in Christiansted when a group of local businessmen wondered why St. Croix did not celebrate the traditionally Irish holiday. Finding no good answer, the group decided to form an impromptu parade.
According to the story, someone called for a flatbed truck, another called for a piano. Soon the newly organized committee and a few supporters hopped aboard the truck and sang Irish and local songs while proceeding down the street. They saluted shoppers and shopkeepers who came out to see what all the noise was about.
Those who were already wearing green got into the spirit at once, while others who needed something green ran into the shops to find it. Some even began dancing behind the truck, making the parade a little more substantial.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade was born that day. Thirty-seven years later it's going strong and has become an important day for the community, charitable beneficiaries and visitors alike.
Gross said the committee is still accepting assistance from volunteers to make this year's event the best it can be. To volunteer, call 773-1189.
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