St. Patrick's Day parade marches on

Midnight Sun

City, volunteers keeping traditional route open

March 12, 2010|By Sam Sessa | sam.sessa@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

For years, the annual St. Patrick's Day parade has charged down Charles Street, banked left on Pratt Street and wound up at Market Place.

But this year, construction on Charles Street threatened to keep the parade off its regular route. Though heavy machinery and other equipment was still at work early this week, parade chairman Arthur Casserly was assured by the city that Charles Street will be clear come Sunday. He has made several trips to Charles Street in the past few weeks to check on progress, and he is confident that the parade will stick to its traditional plans.

"It's looking good," Casserly said. "It looks like they're going to be completely done, with the sidewalks restored and ready to go."

The parade, a Baltimore tradition for the past five decades running, will feature five floats, Irish dancers, antique cars, fire equipment and 30 musical acts, including high school marching bands, drum and bugle corps and the Ravens marching band. The parade is part of the trifecta of Irish-themed events that happen every year, Casserly said, including St. Patrick's Day Mass and the Irish Festival.

"The parade is one of the linchpins for the Irish community," Casserly said. "It keeps us going. It's part of the heritage, it's part of the history. My father used to march in the parade. It's keeping the traditional alive."

A Shamrock 5K race begins at 1:15 p.m. at Charles and Franklin streets, and the parade itself starts at 2 p.m. at the Washington Monument. The first reviewing station is on Charles Street near Mick O'Shea's, and the second, which is typically by the downtown Legg Mason building, had to be moved because of construction. But the parade will still head down Charles Street, past the residence of Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, where the archbishop is expected to bless the celebrations from his steps.

While other parades, such as those for Thanksgiving Day and Columbus Day, have fallen by the wayside, the St. Patrick's Day parade has persisted, mostly because of the cadre of volunteers who lend their time to help make it happen.

"It's a labor of love," Casserly said. "It's not just me. ... It's a full-time job for several people."

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