Feb. 1, 2010

Bellingham Prepares For First-Ever St. Patrick's Day Parade

Following in the rather large footsteps of acknowledged pros like New York City, Chicago and Boston, a small, but committed, band of Bellingham locals has endeavored to bring the cherished and lively tradition of St. Patrick's Day parades to the city this year, for the first time in it's 150+ year history.  As a descendant of vaguely-Irish heritage and a major contributor to the Rob LeRoy Annual St. Patrick's Day Beer Fund, I felt exuberantly compelled to get behind this idea with the full force of my Basque-Irish wit and dedicated online following. This is going to be big, and we can all be a part of it!

Led by committee chair Janet Lightner (general manager of Boundary Bay Brewery, and all-around gift to humanity), the First Annual Bellingham St. Patrick's Day Parade is scheduled for Saturday, March 13th from noon-2pm, following the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department's Runnin' O' the Green Race and Fun Run . The parade will begin at a staging area near the corner of Ohio and Cornwall, proceeding along Cornwall through downtown to Chestnut, then up the hill to Railroad and ending up at the home of the Bellingham Farmer's Market (Depot Market Square) in front of Boundary Bay Brewery.  At that point, festivities will continue with Boundary's signature dry Irish stout ( at least, for me, they will..) and live music throughout the afternoon and evening. There are even plans to open Boundary's popular outdoor seating area and courtyard, weather permitting.

The parade is dedicated to the dual themes of honoring local law enforcement and firefighters, and promoting green technology.  The parade is open to the public, with entrants strongly encouraged to focus on green "people powered" themes for floats.  Local artists, musicians and performers are also needed.  Interested parties are invited to contact event organizers on the St. Patrick's Day Parade website or their associated Facebook fanpage. There will also be a "show up and line up" policy on the day of the event for anyone who wants to join in the parade.

So far, the parade has recruited several local and regional performers, including:

  • Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike as Grand Marshall
  • The Snohomish County Firefighters Pipes and Drums will perform traditional bagpipe music, probably without underwear (they wear kilts)
  • The Penk O'Donnell Dancers
  • The Bellingham homebrewers "Brewers Brigade"
  • The Mount Baker Bike Club
  • The Boundary Bay Regulars kazoo band (if you've never heard a kazoo band...you may want to stop by Boundary Bay before the parade, in order to prepare yourself, mentally)
  • Bellingham folk icon Robert Blake (who is rumored to perform at the Boundary Bay parade after-party)

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Given that this will be the first parade of it's kind in Bellingham history, there are certainly bound to be a few kinks that pop up along the way. However, the parade's organizers are both ambitious and optimistic.  With any luck, the parade will be wildly popular and successful, with many more to follow in the years ahead.

For more information, please follow the links below:

I would like to give a very heartfelt thanks to Janet Lightner for taking the time to meet with me for this piece...and for the fabulous Boundary Bay Irish Stout that I enjoyed during the interview!

Rob LeRoy is a Seattle real estate agent and social media marketing coach with eXp Realty.

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