Everyone’s Irish at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Irish Festival this weekend in Seattle, whether you’re one of the many with Irish heritage — here’s to my grandmother from Ballina, County Mayo! — or honorary Irish for fun, wearin’ of the green.
Festivities start Friday evening with a mini-parade to lay a green stripe along the route of the Saturday parade. All are welcome to walk the mile route or ride a flatbed truck for the event that concludes with an Irish ceili folk dance party at Westlake Park.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a delightfully informal event that welcomes anyone to join and walk behind banners representing areas of Ireland where your ancestors came from, or whichever one you like.
The parade kicks off with the raising of the Irish flag with parade grand marshals and Mayor Ed Murray (himself of proud Irish heritage) in front of the King County Administration Building before heading down Fourth Avenue with Irish dancers, bagpipe bands, Irish community groups, marching bands, drill teams, Seattle firefighters, the Seafair Pirates, and Irish setter, Irish wolfhound and Irish water spaniel dog clubs.
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Holy Names Academy’s contingent is turning out to welcome one of their own, Parade Grand Marshal Katherine Zappone, who grew up in Seattle and graduated from Holy Names and Seattle University, then moved to Ireland and is now a senator in the Irish Parliament.
It’s the 43rd anniversary of the Irish Heritage Club of Seattle parade, which is also celebrating the 1,000-year anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf near Dublin on April 23, 1014, that ended the Viking invasion of Ireland.
After the parade, ride the Monorail to the Irish Festival at Seattle Center for free from 1:30 p.m., to 2:30 p.m. Expect to wait in an often long line along with parade participants as the festivities and crowds move from downtown to Seattle Center.
The festival includes exhibits, vendors, children’s activities, the Irish Reels Film Festival of contemporary Irish short films, and an outdoor display of Irish-made DeLorean sports cars (1 p.m., to 4 p.m. both days). Irish dancers, music and the Seattle Police Pipes and drums perform both days and workshops include information on DNA testing to pinpoint your ancestors at noon Sunday and history presentation on the Battle of Clontarf at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Membership in the Irish Heritage Club is open to everyone and provides information throughout the year on local Irish concerts, lectures, movies and social events and interesting news from Ireland.
Madeline Mckenzie: firstname.lastname@example.org