MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island got a jump on the rest of the world Sunday. March 17 came early, with the Sons and Daughters of Erin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade filling Bald Eagle Drive with Irish dancing, the sound of marching bands, and everywhere, the color green.
Hundreds of spectators, many with family members in the parade, lined the street as the marchers approached. Father Tim Navin of San Marco Catholic Church sat in an open convertible as Grand Marshal, but the parade was actually led by a massive ladder truck of the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department, followed by Leo Rubenstein and a color guard from the VFW, waving the Stars and Stripes.
Wearing shirts that proclaimed “play the music, not the instrument” on the front, and “rock hard or go home” on the back, the Marco Island Charter Middle School band was a crowd favorite. Led by Martie Miller, the school mustered 170 musicians.
Mary Uccello, watching the parade wearing a green t-shirt and shamrock earrings and bracelets, Mary Uccello said she was “Irish by contamination.” Jerry Hotho looked like the Cat in the Hat in his tall gear.
Lorry Sullivan, marching with the Catholic Children’s Choir, took a quick break from her singing, and ran to give kisses to her family when she spotted them along the route. The majestic St. Patrick sitting under the massive Celtic cross on the Erin’s Isle float claimed to be the real McCoy, but when pressed, admitted he is known as Harry Dow, when not wearing his ecclesiastical robes.
Pat Warriner and Louise Roch did a spirited dance, marching with a contingent of Kiwanis kids, and the young ladies of the Celtic Spirit School of Irish Dance had the appropriate moves and costumes, dancing to Irish tunes on a moving stage created on a flatbed truck. The New Jersey, playing with even more enthusiasm than musicality, blew a spirited rendition of the Notre Dame Fight Song as they rounded the corner toward Veterans Park.
Even after the parade passed, organizer Kathleen Reynolds, president of the Sons and Daughters of Erin, was busy, fast-walking and talking into her cell phone.
“Best ever, Kathleen,” called out Joe Granda as Reynolds strode past. The action then shifted to the tents set up at Veterans Park, where vendors sold ice cream, jewelry, and beer from a truck fitted with taps jutting out from the side. Entertainers including Mike and Mary Jo Reagan, and the popular Sister Kaite entertained with Irish songs.
Every parade must have an end, and for the St. Patrick’s parade, behind the three horses and their riders who formed the rearguard, came Pete O’Donoghue, from the restaurant of the same name, on pooper scooper duty.
“I’m used to slinging it, but I’m shoveling it today,” said O’Donoghue.