33rd Irish Parade, Festival Set For March 15

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City will be glowing with green at the 33rd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, which marches down Coastal Highway on Saturday, March 15.

Sponsored by the Delmarva Irish-American Club, this Ocean City tradition has grown to become the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the state, in addition to a seasonal kick-off for many local businesses.

Leading the parade will be the Donovan family, this year’s grand marshals and long-time members of the DIAC. With pipe and drum bands, including the Chesapeake Caledonia Pipe and Drum Band and the Ocean City Pipe Band, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade brings the sounds of Ireland to the streets of Ocean City. Also participating are several area high school marching bands including the Stephen Decatur High School Marching Band and numerous festively decorated St. Patty’s Day floats.

The procession begins at noon at 58th Street and marches south on Coastal Highway to the 45th Street Shopping Center, where the reviewing and judges stand will be located.  Trophies will be awarded for best marching band, best commercial float, best non-commercial float, best motorized unit, best adult marching unit, best youth marching unit, special committee award, judges’ choice award and best overall entry in the parade.

In addition to the celebration on the street, the 45th Street Shopping Center will once again be transformed into a lively Irish festival complete with live Irish entertainment, dancers, face painting, Irish apparel and plenty of food and drink.  With music provided by Pat O’Brennan and dancing by the Footsteps Irish Dancers, spectators can enjoy the free-admission festival beginning at 11 a.m. running until 3 p.m.  To avoid traffic delays, viewers are urged to arrive before 10:30 a.m. and to view the parade from 58th Street south to 45th Street.

The Delmarva Irish-American Club was founded in 1980. The first membership drive resulted in 75 members; today the membership totals more than 300 and is open to anyone who is Irish, of Irish descent or just likes things Irish. The club has awarded over $250,000 for scholarships to local students from the proceeds of previous parades.  For more information, visit www.delmarvairish.org or contact Buck Mann at 410-289-6156.

In 1978, Mike and Cathy Donovan moved to Ocean City from the Baltimore area. They opened up a gift shop in the 45th Street Village, and Mike started a screen printing company, New Wave, in the attic. Their business blossomed and they quickly outgrew their space in the 45th Street Village, so they moved their operations to Sunset Avenue in West Ocean City.

Mike and Cathy had a daughter in 1983, Colleen, who has attended every St. Patrick’s Parade in Ocean City since birth.

New Wave has been making the St. Patrick’s Parade T-shirts every year, selling them on parade day in the 45th Street Village where it all started. Profits from the T-shirt sales are donated to the Delmarva Irish-American Club for scholarships that are awarded every year to local high school students.

Mike Donovan passed away in 1990. Cathy and Colleen, along with Mike’s children from a previous marriage, Andrew Donovan and Kyla Porter, are all proud members of the DIAC. Now there are five Donovan grandchildren.

In 2010, Colleen married Matt Brown, and they are now the owners of New Wave. Matt’s most important role in this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade is to continue the tradition of selling the official apparel in the 45th Street Village, thus allowing other members of the Donovan family to enjoy the parade as grand marshals.