WILMINGTON ó For the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish heritage organization, the St. Patrickís Day parade and festival in downtown Wilmington is a celebration of respect and appreciation. It honors St. Patrick, who spread Christianity through Ireland in the fifth century, and has come to represent an appreciation for all aspects of Irish culture.


 



WILMINGTON ó For the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish heritage organization, the St. Patrickís Day parade and festival in downtown Wilmington is a celebration of respect and appreciation. It honors St. Patrick, who spread Christianity through Ireland in the fifth century, and has come to represent an appreciation for all aspects of Irish culture.



So you wonít see businesses promoting themselves with St. Patrickís Day parade floats. Instead, the 50-unit parade will be filled primarily with bands, dancers and beauty queens. A Marine band from Cherry Point will be among the highlighted entrants. The parade marched down Front Street for the first time last year, and organizers said they are glad to be returning to Front Street.



After the parade, the St. Patrickís Day Festival opens at Riverfront Park.



Entertainment at the festival includes music by the Wilmington Police Departmentís pipe and drum band, No Dollar $hoes and The Malones. Traditional Irish dancing will be performed by the Walsh Kelley School of Irish Dancing and the Slainte UNCW Irish Dance Club.



One thing that will be missing will be local Irish restaurants serving great food. St. Patrickís Day is such a busy time for Irish restaurants that they are unable to dedicate a crew to serving food at the festival.



Guinness will be served at the festival, of course, but organizers stressed that the festival is family-friendly.



There may be some shenanigans at the bars on Saturday (and Sunday) night, but on Sunday afternoon, the party isnít quite so raucous.



"We want to push the fact that this is a family-friendly event," said Chris Andrews of Cool Wilmington!, which is producing the festival. "Itís not a big drink-off."



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St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival



∑         Downtown Wilmington (festival at Riverfront Park)



∑         Parade at 11 a.m., festival noon-6 p.m., Saturday, March 16.



∑         Free. For more information, call Chris Andrews at 216-374-8884 or visit CoolWilmington.com.