Irish on the beach

St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival in Ocean City has grown a lot in 30 years

March 12, 2010|By Shruti Rastogi

Since its start 30 years ago, the Delmarva Irish-American Club's St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival in Ocean City has grown remarkably.

Buck Mann, the grand marshal for the parade, recalls its humble beginnings of "about two cars and five people."

This year, however, the parade, which begins at noon Saturday moving south from 61st Street on Coastal Highway to 44th Street, will feature 35 floats, two marching bands and three pipe-and-drum bands.

The accompanying festival takes place at the 45th Street Village Shopping Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature face painting; Irish music by James Gallagher's band, Off The Boat; step dancing; corned beef sandwiches and other foods; souvenirs; and, of course, beer.

Viewers can watch the parade along the highway and listen while D.J. Wayne Cannon announces the floats and the judges look for winners of prizes for best marching band, best motorized unit and best overall float.

While the parade and festival are free, the Delmarva Irish-American Club profits from money from products sold at the festival and gives $15,000-$17,000 a year in school scholarships and $3,000-$5,000 to local charities, Mann said.

After the parade, a number of local restaurants and bars host their own parties.

"For the longest time, we were one of the only Irish places in town, and it's become tradition that when the parade is over [that] a lot of people come here," said Scott Heiner, the kitchen manager of Shenanigan's Irish Pub & Grille.

Then there's BJ's on the Water and Seacrets, where, said Ocean City's communications manager Donna Abbott, "there's a spirit of camaraderie" because of their rivalry for best float in the parade.

The bars will be family-friendly during the day, and there are plenty of other activities for people to check out this weekend.

•On Saturday and Sunday, the 30th Annual Hot Rod and Custom Car Show takes place at the Convention Center. It runs 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, and children under 5 are admitted free.

•The American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Area III, will be giving a free performance at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Convention Center as part of its spring festival.

•Area eateries such as the Dough Roller's Restaurant for pizza or pancakes, Rita's Italian Ice, Dumser's Dairyland for ice cream, Trattoria Lombardi's for pizza, and Fisher's Popcorn will be open.

•Abbott said that during the offseason, Oct. 1-April 30, people can walk their leashed pets on the beach and boardwalk. The offseason also has no restrictions on when people can ride bikes on the boardwalk, and visitors can rent bikes at locations along the boardwalk.

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