St. Patricks Day

Melissa Mitchell, Computer Expert

People all over the world celebrate Irish culture March 17, St. Patrick’s day. Each year, people look forward to many festivals and parades honoring the Irish heritage.  St. Patricks day started as a religious holiday held on the death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has now spread into a world-wide celebration.

Saturday, March 14, the Raleigh St. Patricks Day Parade committee held a parade in downtown Raleigh. The roads were closed and streets were packed with decorated floats, dancing children and adults. This year was the 33rd year Raleigh hosted the parade.

“I go to the Irish Festival every year. I like to see what other cultures are like and the traditions they have,” said Jessica Sigmon, freshman.

The parade started in 1983 with a dozen Irish-Americans marching down Wilmington St. and through downtown to the delight of the local residents, merchants and shoppers. The organization was taken over by the Raleigh’s Friends of Ireland organization after the original founders, John McIntyre and Gail Massari, were transferred to Germany.

The 2015 Grand Marshal, Dr. Jerry Parnell, has been the lead piper of the parade for the  the last 32 years. He walks in traditional kilt, plays the bagpipes and leads the rest of the parade through the route. He is also guarded by the Irish Wolfhounds as he walks, fulfilling a famous tradition.

“I have a good amount of Irish in me so it was cool watching the dancers, and it helped me understand that part of my background better,” said Allie Denton, freshman.

The Raleigh’s Friends of Ireland organization also holds an Irish Heritage Contest. People who are of Irish birth and are between the ages of 16 and 23 can submit an essay and participate in an interview in front of the judging panel. The first place winners, Eleanor Chappell and Steve Krahe, received one thousand dollar awards this year.

After the parade and Heritage Contest, a festival with live music is held on the Martin Street Stage and the Shamrock Rock ‘N Roll Stage. Cultural Irish food is also served. The most popular dish is a traditional stew of lamb or mutton, potatoes, carrots, onions and parsley.

“I went to the festival with my family because we like to try the different types of food they serve at it. I didn’t like most of it but some stuff wasn’t bad,” said Andie Yankaglou, freshman.

The festival and parade happen every year in downtown Raleigh and all cultures are welcome, not just the Irish.

“I can’t wait for next year!” said Denton.