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D.C. parade to march and mark 50

Author Alice McDermott is grand marshal of the upcoming Washington, D.C. St. Patrick’s Day Parade.


By Irish Echo Staff

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Washington, D.C. which took a break last year due to rising costs imposed by the District of Columbia City government, will step off this year, will do so on Sunday, March 15 and will also mark its fiftieth year.

This year’s grand marshal will be bestselling novelist and National Book Award winner, Alice McDermott.

“The city has been unrelenting but there will be a parade this year,” said parade committee chairman, Bob Monagan.

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The parade, which first stepped off in 1971, has faced cost increases imposed by the city of over 270 percent since 2014.

Those costs became insurmountable last year and the parade was cancelled. But this gave parade organizers in the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee of Washington, D.C. the time they needed to raise funds for this year.

An all-volunteer non-profit organization, the committee exists solely for the purpose of raising funds for, and staging, a St. Patrick’s Parade in the nation’s capital.

Said Bob Monagan: “We had to change our fundraising practices and get more help, which we have done.”

Traditionally, fundraising has been limited to the generosity of a hand full of sponsors and the local Irish community.

The time that organizers spent on fundraising was also limited, but that has now changed.

“We learned from the New York parade that you have to a working all year round,” said Monagan.

The parade began with modest roots. A small band of marchers started at Dupont Circle and marched to Sheridan Circle and the Irish Embassy on a portion of Massachusetts Avenue known as Embassy Row.

The mile long parade route takes marchers file past the iconic Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, the Washington Monument as well as the White House grounds directly across the street from the reviewing stand.

It typically features over 5000 marchers, dozens of floats, and all branches of the U.S Military including the President’s “Old Guard” unit.

The parade has hosted famous grand marshals including Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill, Jr., Special Olympics Program Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Washington Redskins Running Back John Riggins, Marine Corps Commandant General PX Kelly, America’s Most Wanted Host John Walsh, and Labor leader John J. Sweeney.

In addition to Grand Marshal Alice McDermott, Manus Cooney is the parade’s 2020 James Hoban Gael of the Year, Patrick Burke is John Barry Gael of the Year, Vincent C. Burke III is Swampoodle Gael of the Year, and Maggie O’Neill is St. Brigid Gael of the Year.

More on the parade at www.dcstpatsparade.com.