OCEAN CITY — Ocean City will be glistening in green as the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, sponsored by the Delmarva Irish-American Club, marches down Coastal Highway on Saturday, March 16.
This Ocean City tradition, which began in 1980, has grown to become the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the state, in addition to becoming a seasonal kick-off for many local businesses.
Leading the parade are Grand Marshals Fran and Michael Patrick Kelly, along with Lillian Farrell, Cultural Affairs Attaché from the Embassy of Ireland. Featuring the Chesapeake Caledonian Pipe Band and the Ocean City Pipe and Drum Band, the parade brings the sounds of Ireland to the streets of Ocean City. Also participating are local high school marching bands plus numerous festively decorated floats sponsored by local businesses, groups and organizations.
The procession begins at noon at 57th Street and marches south on Coastal Highway to the 45th Street Shopping Center, where the viewing and judging stands 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 be once again be transformed into a spirited Irish festival complete with live entertainment from Kevin O’Brennan and the Shoreline Band, Irish apparel and plenty of food and drink. Spectators can enjoy the free-admission festival beginning at 11 a.m. and 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 57th Street south to 45th Street.
For the fourth year in a row, WRDE will broadcast the parade live beginning at 11:30 a.m., with hosts Matt Pencek, Madeleine Overturf and Dean Langrall. The WRDE Irish Eye in the Sky will bring brilliant pictures of the parade from above along with cameras covering all the floats, bands and maybe a leprechaun or two. Watch a re-broadcast of the parade Sunday, March 17, on My Cozi TV, which can be found on Comcast and Mediacom.
The DIAC was founded in 1980, and its first membership drive resulted in 75 members. Today, there are close to 300 members. Over the years, the club — a 501(c)(3) social organization — has donated more than $500,000 from the proceeds of the annual parade and festival. These donations go to scholarships for local high school students and to other local charities and organizations.