Hundreds enjoy annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, fair

The Abellos of Glendale brought their four grandchildren, Daysia, 9, Destiny, 7, Madysen, 4, and three-year-old Daniel, to the St. Patrick's Day Parade. (Photo by Dolores Tropiano)

The Abellos of Glendale brought their four grandchildren, Daysia, 9, Destiny, 7, Madysen, 4, and three-year-old Daniel, to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (Photo by Dolores Tropiano)

It was an annual tradition for some and a surprising new experience for others.

The 33rd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade drew the old and young, those who were devoted to the parade for decades and others lucky enough to be discovering it for the very first time. The parade took place on March 12 in downtown Phoenix and the party continued with an all-day fair at the Irish Cultural Center and Margaret Hance Park on Central Avenue.

Hundreds lined the curbs of 3rd Street, including the Abello family, who thought the parade was the perfect place to bring their four grandchildren – Daysia, 9, Destiny, 7, Madysen, 4, and three-year-old Daniel.

“This is the first time they have ever been to a parade,” said Janet Abello, of Glendale. “I asked them to wear something green and they came with green hair. We are going to the fair afterwards. They are very excited.”

The parade featured floats, fancy DeLorean sports cars, Irish step dancers and dignitaries including Michael Bidwill, the president of the Arizona Cardinals and this year’s grand marshal. Bidwill waved from a custom float filled with team cheerleaders and mascot, Big Red.

The spirit of the Irish was in the air which was filled with the sounds of sweet bagpipes, jigs and reels, and old Irish favorites such as “Clancy Lowered the Boom,” which blasted from the Clancy float.

(photo by Dolores Tropiano)

(Photo by Dolores Tropiano)

This year’s parade theme was “2016 – An Irish Centennial” which tied in with the global commemorations of the Easter Rising of 1916. Paul Ahern, architect of the beautiful buildings at the Irish Cultural Center at 1106 N. Central Ave., was this year’s Irish Person of the Year and the 2016 Irish Colleen Rose was Ciara Archer.

Joe Mascorella, 93, of Phoenix, sat on a white plastic chair on Third and Sheridan Streets, the start of the parade, where he has sat for the past three decades of parades.

“I come to see what I can learn,” said Mascorella. “It’s a tremendous buildup of friends for people.”

Joyce Clark of Scottsdale shared the spotlight with her horse, Penny Rose. Like Mascorella, she was a regular at the Irish event since its inception in 1983. But Clark and her horse of a different color, were parade participants. Clark’s Arabian-quarter horse was, of course, food-colored green.

The parade was followed by the fair which featured favorite Irish foods and flowing drinks. It took place on the green grass of Margaret Hance Park, not exactly the meadows near Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains, but combined with multitude of green attire, it became downtown Phoenix’s finest substitute.

Irish bands including the bawdy Brazen Heads, and Big Fellahs performed on several stages during the fair and the Irish Library as open for tours and a sneak peak at the world class exhibition currently on view called “Remembering the Easter Rising: Historical Context and Cultural Legacy.”

It was a fun day for the families and fans of the Irish who gathered for a single Saturday in March.

“In a world where everyone is busy being an individual, the parade and fair fosters a sense of unity,” said Harry Sexton, president of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Faire Committee. “”That which makes us similar is more important than that which separates us.”

Ms. Tropiano is a volunteer correspondent at the North Valley Office of Independent Newsmedia.

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