Resort’s St. Patrick’s Parade Now State’s Largest

Resort’s St. Patrick’s Parade Now State’s Largest
Near-perfect weather and good timing with the date led to one of the best St. Patrick’s Day Parades in recent memory with thousands cramming into the resort. Pictured above, a pipe and drum band leads the procession down Coastal Highway. Photos by Shawn Soper

OCEAN CITY – With one of the biggest and best ever in recent memory last weekend, the Delmarva Irish-American Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is now being billed as “the largest in the state of Maryland.”

With the combination of near-perfect weather and the actual St. Pat-rick’s Day just a day later, several thousand visitors crammed into Ocean City on Saturday for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Thousands up-on thousands lined the parade route and countless others filled into their favorite watering holes along with the other associated events.

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Pictured above, the grand marshals for the 2019 parade were Fran and Michael Patrick Kelly.

To be sure, traffic was snarled at times and reports of waiting an hour just to go a few blocks circulated, but by and large it was a fun, safe weekend for most. For years, Ocean City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been billed the second largest in Maryland, playing second fiddle so to speak to the annual big parade in Baltimore. However, Mayor Rick Meehan announced at the close of Monday’s council meeting the distinction had been swiped from Charm City.

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“Thanks to the Town of Ocean City for supporting the Delmarva Irish-American Club and thanks to all of the businesses for their support for what has now become the largest St. Pat-rick’s Day parade in the state of Maryland,” he said. “It will continue to be that. Talk about economic benefit. It is the largest weekend of the year not between Memorial Day and Labor Day and it might surpass Memorial Day for an awful lot of the businesses, which is what I hear from them.”

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Mayor Rick Meehan with grandson Brantley on board greeted parade revelers.

When asked later how the distinction of being the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the state was quantified, Meehan said Baltimore’s parade featured around 100 participants from three states, while the Delmarva Irish-American Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ocean City last Saturday included over 125 entrants from as far away as New York and New Jersey along with Maryland and Delaware.

While Meehan used the number of entrants to quantify the distinction of being the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Maryland, the proof might have been in the pudding with the huge throngs along the parade route and throughout the resort.

“We had a great weekend and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade brought over 100,000 people to town,” he said. “We’ll have a better idea when we get some of the metrics back. It was a huge success and there were huge crowds all weekend, starting Thursday with people walking along the streets and wearing their green.”

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City officials including Councilman Matt James (center) doled out candy and greeted parade enthusiasts.

Meehan said the bulging crowds carried over to some of the associated events, creating optimism for what has become the jumpstart to the season after a long winter.

“They also had 1,500 runners in the Shenanigan’s 5K, which was the largest ever,” he said. “It was a great weekend for Ocean City and a good kick-off for the season. Let’s hope it continues throughout the year.”

For the record, many of the parade entrants were honored with awards following last Saturday’s event. The Best Overall Award went to the Float of Hope, while the Judge’s Choice Award went to the Believe in Tomorrow National Children’s Foundation. The Special Committee Award went to the Ocean City Surf Club.

The Best Commercial Float Award went to Ocean 98-Seacrets-Seacrets Distilling Company, with

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State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza walked the parade route and reached out to big crowds.

the Honorable Mention going to Barn 34. The Best Non-Commercial Float Award went to the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, with the Honorable Mention going to Kelly’s Dream.

The award for the best marching unit went to the Camden County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, while the Royal Elite Diamondz Majorette Hip-Hop Dance Team earned the honorable mention. The award for the best motorized unit went to the Perry County Old Iron 1929 Model A Truck, while the Tall Cedars of Lebanon-Evergreen Forest 49 earned the honorable mention.

The award for the best adult group went to the Downtown Association of Ocean City with the honorable mention going to the Old Frat Boys. The award for the best youth group went to the Indian River School District Combined Marching Band, while the honorable mention went to the Eastern Shore Ballet Theatre.

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This sleepy little girl crashed before the parade even got started.

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Parade swag was all the rage for enthusiasts including this little one reaching out for beads.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.