LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It may not feel like it, but Louisville’s annual rite of spring is Saturday – the 46th Annual Ancient Order of Hibernian St. Patrick’s Parade.
This year’s theme is “SHAKIN THE SHILLELAGH!"
As many as 150 units are expected for this year’s parade that will begin at 3 p.m. at Baxter and Broadway. And this year, for the first time, a high school band will be part of the parade. Western High School will be entertaining the tens of thousands of people along the parade route.
This is the third year for the Hibernian Heroes which honors a person from LMPD, LFD, EMS, and Sheriff for going above and beyond.
Here are my five questions with Ancient Order of Hibernian President John O’Dwyer on the St. Patrick’s Parade.
1.) What makes this parade so special year after year?
It starts out being fun because it celebrates the Irish. The Irish are long known for working hard and playing hard and having fun at the same time. We transfer that fun to the parade. We have fun putting it on and make sure everyone else has fun. The people that come really make the parade what it is. They feed off each other and it just grows. Many will also say that parade is the first day of spring for them. This optimism also generates a great feeling for all.
2.) How do you keep interest to get people to attend after so many years?
We bring all demographics together. Despite the differences that people concentrate on each day they all seem to go away on Parade day. It is a unifying day that lets people have fun. The Parade participants are as varied and they work every year to have floats that match the theme. This means they interact with all the watchers and ties the day together.
3.) Weather is always a factor. What’s the hottest parade and the coldest parade?
The Parade used to be held downtown and it was not a big event. Speaking with some of our older Brothers they talk about a time when there was heavy snow and freezing temperatures. They were marching with no one on the route watching them. They never knew how cold it was but they had to cut their walk short to get out of the cold. We never seem to have real hot days for the parade. We have had parades that hit into the high 70s but that is fun rather than hot. About four years ago we had a long winter. The first day we had nice weather was parade day. It seemed like the entire city came out that day. To see everyone come out of their “caves” and have fun at the parade was definitely a proud moment for us.
4.) Where’s the best place to watch the parade?
Anywhere along the route is great. The biggest crowds will be in what I call the Irish Triangle. This is the part of Baxter Avenue where O’Shea’s, Molly Malone’s, and Flanagan’s are located. The crowds are very large there. Families with small children tend to move down the route towards the Bardstown Road section of the route. There is more room and Mid City Mall provides as well. This year we added a new VIP watching area. We are using the parking lot next to Diorio’s to set up a tented area with tables and chairs, private port-a-pots, private access to a five-tap beer truck, and direct food access to Diorio’s. The money we raise by selling tickets to this area goes straight to the charity. Tickets are available on Eventbrite and cost $60 each. It will be a prime elevated location to watch the parade and not have to wait in lines for anything.
5.) Why is this parade important to the area?
Aside from the money it generates for the businesses and their employees, it raises money for the community. The parade is operated under the Ancient Order of Hibernians 501(c)(3) charity known as the HCCA, Hibernian Cultural and Charitable Association. Any “profit” the parade makes allows us to support those in need in the region. We give money and time to other groups so that we can lift others that are in need. It is also a unifying event for anyone that wants to attend or participate.