By Patrick B. McGuigan
Oklahoma City businessman David Egan is grand marshal for the 29th annual St. Patrick’s Parade. Egan, president of the Stockyards City Association, will lead the event through the streets of downtown Oklahoma City this Saturday (March 19)
The theme is “the showing of the green,” and all entries are encouraged to display bright green colors. Organizers also have asked for displays of the American flag in support of troops serving in the U.S. Military, telling The City Sentinel, “The United States of America is a nation of immigrants and a land of endless opportunity.”
Last Saturday, Egan was honored at the Green Tie Gala benefiting Catholic Charities. The gala is part of the annual cycle of events related to the parade honoring the legendary Irish saint, known as “The Enlightener of Ireland” for bringing Christianity to the Emerald Isle. St. Patrick is also remembered for use use of the Shamrock and its three leaves as a method for explaining the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and traditional Christian believes in “three persons in one God.”
The Knights of Columbus will return to the parade, with Fourth Degree members walking the route in full regalia, and other Knights representing the Order’s principles of Unity, Charity, Fraternity and Patriotism. Peter Pembroke, deputy Grand Knight of the Knights Council No.1038 and a member of the official parade committee, told The City Sentinel he expected the best parade ever, in the aftermath of several organizational steps designed to enhance the experience for both parade participants and spectators.
Long time organizer Paula Jones said the parade’s , growth has necessitate that beginning this year, participants no longer stop at the reviewing stand to perform. However, judges will visit the staging area around NW 9 and Broadway before the parade steps off, to take in all the dozens of entries and allow time to see some dance, musical and other performances.
Jones added, “With 80 to 100 entries even one minute [performing before the reviewing stand] equals an unreasonable amount of time for those at the back. We know everyone will come up with innovative ways to show their stuff to the crowd.” The increasing sophistication of the parade organization is the latest sign the event is beginning to rival similar celebrations around the world and the U.S., including those in Boston, New York City, Chicago and in Dublin, Ireland, itself.
The parade will step off at 1 p.m. on Broadway Avenue at N.W. 9th Street. Participating units will march down Automobile Alley, onto E.K. Gaylord, then turn east on Sheridan Avenue, marching through Bricktown to the east side of the historic district. Participating units are encouraged to gather between 11:30 a.m. and High Noon, organizers said.
This year’s major sponsors include the City of Oklahoma City and Egan’s business, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, where an after-parade meal will be held for participants. Proceeds from that event will help the Father Donohoe Scholarship Fund, assisting students who attend El Reno’s Sacred Heart grade school.
Gold sponsors for the parade itself are B.C. Clark, Integris Health, Oklahoma County sheriff’s office and Spaghetti Warehouse.
Other sponsoring groups include the Knights of Columbus, Action Safety Supply, Davis Engineering, Markwell Paving, Chelino’s, First Enterprise Bank, Pancho’s Liquortown, Connelly Paving, Irish Realty, KTOK Radio, Teleflora, C.L. Frates, O’Connor’s Law & Garden, Tyler Media and The City Sentinel, which provided advertising support for the annual event.
Editor’s Note: Pat McGuigan, who is of Irish ancestry, is a past grand marshal of the Oklahoma City Saint Patrick’s Day parade.