There’s a method in their March marching madness. Marco Island traditionally holds its St. Patrick’s Day parade early, one week ahead of the massive St. Paddy’s parade in Naples, thereby allowing bands and floats to march in both.

The Sons and Daughters of Erin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade marched up Bald Eagle Drive on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, although it was windy enough to blow a few hats off. Hundreds of spectators sat in the bright sun or sought the shade of trees along the parade route, with children dashing out to grab the candy tossed by the passing paraders.

A contingent of Marco Riders on big Harleys came first after the local officials in convertibles, weaving back and forth across the road to give everyone a close look. They proceeded north on Bald Eagle Drive from the NCH Healthcare Center to Veterans’ Community Park, with dignitaries including Grand Marshal Tim McCoy, owner of the Speakeasy, who confirmed he honored tradition by going “commando” beneath his kilt.

Additional cars carried Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala and Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards, while Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy shared a ride with Police Chief Al Schettino.

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Highlights of the parade included floats such as the crowd favorite Celtic Spirit School of Irish Dance, and marching bands from Marco Island Charter Middle School, Lely High and St. John Neumann, who went straight for the quintessential Irish tune, playing the Notre Dame fight song as they passed City Hall.

Nobody sported more green than the “Larky Leprechauns,” marching in full “Marco Ireland” regalia, while Dave Walsh and Ed Crane followed behind with a beer keg conveniently mounted on a handtruck, in case anyone felt faint and needed sustenance.

After completing the parade route at Elkcam Circle South, the marchers headed over to Veterans Community Park for “hoolie,” which sounds like something done by hooligans, but kept the “guid craic” flowing into the afternoon, along with the beer.

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