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Sun Shines on the Green at St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 17, 2007 — For the 38th straight year, the Crucian emerald of the sea celebrated the emerald isle of Ireland Saturday with music, revelry and the wearin' o' the green at the 38th annual St. Croix St. Patrick's Day Parade in Christiansted.
Irish green was everywhere. Shirts, skirts, beads and beards in all manner of emerald shades adorned the Irish, the part Irish, the wannabe Irish and those who love the Irish. Green beer in tall "yard" glasses, green Jell-O shots and green bottles of Jameson's Irish Whiskey took their places among the Heinekens, Coors Lights and Carlsbergs. The teeming crowd wore green plastic bowlers, green shamrock face stickers, green face paint and green fright wigs. Irish fiddle music and bagpipes mixed with hard rock, ska, calypso, soca and marching-band drums to fill the air with festive noise.
"Why do I do this? Because it's so much fun," said Kelly Moore from her spot atop one of the floats. Moore's sported green hair and a green shirt, while a green metallic sticker bejeweled her face. In one hand she held a green tall beer, and on the other perched a maniacal green leprechaun puppet she used to harass friends in the crowd below her.
The parade's grand marshal, Father John McLoughlin of St. Patrick's Church in Frederiksted, played St. Patrick in green robes and white beard, greeting the revelers with royal poise as he rode by in a convertible.
The nearly four-decade tradition began on St. Patrick's Day 1969 in Christiansted with an impromptu tramp behind a flatbed truck topped with revelers and a piano. In recent years, the celebration grew more rowdy and boisterous, with women flashing for beads, Mardi Gras-style, drawing protests from those who wanted a more family-friendly event. By many accounts, this year was considerably more restrained than the most recent few parades.
With a history going back to before many of the revelers were born, newer traditions have sprung up among the crews who work together every year to make the floats.
"This is our 17th year in the parade," said Kevin O'Sheah, a former owner of Frederiksted's Lost Dog Pub. "The whole town of Frederiksted has come together working on our float for the last 17 years. Every year I leave a single huge box of beads on the float, and they are always all gone by the time the parade is in the second leg."
O'Sheah has a large party vocabulary.
"We love St. Patrick's," he said. "It's a day for light-hearted shenanigans, tomfoolery and ballyhoo."
Within that tradition, rumors abound about another tradition going back years.
"We won best float in '93, '94 and '95, but in '96 they gave it to somebody's buddy, so in '96 we stole the trophy back," said an anonymous source. "And every year since we've passed it around and drunk green beer from it the night before."
For his part, O'Sheah acknowledged issues regarding the trophy while espousing an extra-terrestrial cause.
"Every year they give the trophy to someone else, because they say we offend some," said a smiling O'Sheah. "But we obeyed the rules and our floats are always great. And we fit the theme. The theme is 'Save the Green,' and we are dedicated to saving the green Martians."
Throughout the parade, Christiansted continued to swell with new arrivals from all over the islands. The throngs in the street thickened until police had to shoo people out of the roadway to make room for the floats. When the final float found the end of the route in the early afternoon, the party gradually moved its way into the restaurants and bars, going on until night.
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