Shades of spring

Queen City to paint the town green for 23rd Saint Patrick's parade Sunday

New Hampshire Union Leader
March 21. 2018 1:12PM

Kelly Jo Monahan sports a shamrock performing with the Manchester High School West band Street during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manchester on March 26. (MICHAEL COUSINEAU/UNION LEADER)

Anna Pantazis grabs a perch along Elm Street every March to catch the Manchester Saint Patrick’s Parade.

“It’s a nice, springtime, happy parade,” she said summing up the mood during last year’s event.

This year’s parade, set for noon Sunday, once again will feature several crowd favorites, including clowns and bagpipes.

Neal Brown, co-owner of the Shaskeen Irish Pub & Restaurant, which is along the parade route, sees the annual event as a sure sign that spring has sprung.

“To me, it almost seems after a long winter, this is kind of the end (of that season),” Brown said. “This is an excuse for people to get in the fresh air again.”

Several thousand people will turn out along the Elm street route, which kicks off near Salmon Street at noon and runs south to Central Street.

Many parade watchers catch a drink or snack at one of the nearby restaurants before or after the parade.

“It is potentially our biggest afternoon shift after St. Patrick’s Day,” Brown said. “It’s an Irish parade outside the door of an Irish pub.”

The parade takes some serious fundraising, according to the parade committee’s chairman, Dennis Grogan.

“You know, it cost a lot of money for this,” said Grogan, who’s worked the parade for its entire 23-year run.

Try $50,000, all from fundraising, including sponsors such as the Shaskeen.

Many participants charge to be part of the parade. He said the Londonderry High School Marching Lancer Band & Color Guard receives a couple thousand dollars.

“I know a lot of people think it’s all free; it isn’t,” he said. “The people who participate have an amount they want paid.”

Many kids enjoy the clowns while their parents and grandparents soak up the music from bagpipers.

Dozens of units have signed up to participate. (It’s held rain or shine, and there is no cost to watch the festivities.)

Traditionally, the parade isn’t held on Saint Patrick’s Day itself, but the following weekend, since “people who participate in the parade are busy performing elsewhere,” Grogan said.

This year’s parade grand marshal is Sheila Smith, a paraprofessional at Wilson Street School who also has worked at the Puritan Backroom for more than three decades.

“The parade is dedicated to all of the music educators, music directors and music staff who bring music to our schools and communities,” parade planners said at

Before last year’s parade, Ralph Sommese, “Bo Bo” the clown, remarked how happiness is a two-way street.

“I think the best thing is when they see us, they smile, and that makes us smile,” he said.

The long parade lineup will include everything from fire trucks to calliopes and Irish dancers to professional roller derby players. Presented by the Manchester St. Patrick’s Parade Committee and the Ancient Order Hibernians, the parade features several divisions, one of which is sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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