Get your Irish on: Saints Patrick and Baldrick to turn island green

— It’s time for the wearin’ o’ the green, and just possibly, the shearin’ o’ the locks.

Proving once again that Marco Island is a little bit ahead of the rest of the world, the island’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place this Sunday, March 11.

“It’s going to be a great parade, and the weather is going to be perfect,” promised parade organizer Kathleen Reynolds of the Sons and Daughters of Erin.

“We’ve got the Marine Corps coming and marching this year, and a circus train that is so cute, you have to see it.” Owned by Bill Christ, the train will carry the kids from the CCD class at San Marco Catholic parish.

“Pete Haden, who was Chief of the Department at the New York Fire Dept. in 9/11, will be here, and of course Chief Murphy” from the Marco Fire-Rescue Dept., she said. The Grand Marshal of the parade is “Mister Marco Island, Dick Shanahan,” a good Irish name that a few on the island might recognize.

The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. from the health park on Bald Eagle Drive, and proceeds north to Veterans’ Community Park. Once at the park, paraders can quench their thirst with Irish beer, promised Reynolds.

“We’ll have plenty of Guinness, and Harp’s too,” she said, “plus great corned beef sandwiches, live music, arts and crafts, and plenty of food and activities for the kids.”

Spectators can count on the traditional favorites that make the St. Patrick’s Day Parade a hit with residents and visitors alike. The marching band from the Marco Island Charter Middle School, over 150 strong, has been a crowd pleaser, along with the young ladies of the Celtic Spirit School of Irish Dance, with costumes and moves to match the music.

From Sunday, you have all week to get over your hangover, and then watch the courageous souls who give their hair to help the fight against cancer in children, and donate to their effort. Or, if the spirit moves you, you can be one of them.

For the fifth year, Cathy O’Clarke’s on South Collier Blvd. is hosting St. Baldrick’s Day, turning haircuts into hope. The event starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 16, what you could call St. Patrick’s Eve, except that the parade happens a week early on Marco.

The local St. Baldrick’s event is part of an international effort that grew from a not necessarily sober challenge among a group of friends to become the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraiser for childhood cancer research. Since 2000, the group has raised over $100 million, including more than $28 million last year alone. funding research and helping support children and their families who are fighting cancer. Last year, St. Baldrick’s volunteers hosted more than 800 events in all 50 states and around the world, shaving over 45,000 heads, including more than 5,200 women.

Cathy O’Clarke’s is located at 591 South Collier Blvd., just south of Marco Movies. To contribute to St. Baldrick’s, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, call Mike Assaf at 239-389-4526, or go to

© 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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