The 5th Annual St. Augustine St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a celebration of the Emerald Isle’s most revered saint. Northeast Florida’s ONLY St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been honored by Ireland of the Welcomes Magazine as an outstanding example of American celebrations of the patron saint. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 14 at Francis Field, 29 W. Castillo Drive, downtown St. Augustine.
The parade travels down Orange Street to Avenida Menendez (the bayfront), then to Cathedral Place, next on Cordova Street, then back to Orange Street. Spectators are encouraged to arrive early to claim a spot along the parade route … then follow the parade to the Celtic Festival!
Grand Marshall this year is St. Augustine’s founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles (portrayed by Chad Light).
Local officials also will be part of the parade — Mayor Nancy Shaver, Commissioner Todd Neville, Commissioner Roxanne Horvath, Fire Chief J.C. Costeria, and Assistant County Administrator Jerry Cameron.
Marching bands include the Jacksonville Pipes & Drums, JFRD Pipes & Drums, Ancient City Pipes & Drums, Bishop Moore Catholic High School, and Pedro Menendez High School.
Floats will feature the St. Augustine Yacht Club, The Royal Family, The Center for Spiritual Living, Cathedral Parish School, Anastasia Mosquito Control, Ripley’s Red Trains, and Barley Republic Public House.
Clans from throughout Scotland, Ireland and the rest of the Celtic world are represented each year, bringing with them the music, colors, language and stories of their ancestors. Each clan is invited to fly their banner in the annual St. Augustine St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Clans flying their flags include Clan MacLaren (2015 honored clan), the St. Augustine Garrison (host clan), CelticNorse Heritage Society, Clan Donnachaidh Society of Florida, Clan Hamilton, Clan Irwin, Clan Kerr/Carr, Clan MacPherson, Clan Ross, St. Andrew’s Society of Jacksonville, Clan Sutherland Society of North America, and Clan Wallace Society.
Parade organizer Sherri Cunningham says her favorite part of the parade is “all the pomp and circumstance.”
“Everyone is REALLY dressed up and part of the atmosphere and fun,” she explained. “The spectators are just as dressed up as the participants.”
Entrants will be judged in one of three categories: Band, marching unit or float. Prizes will be given for the best in each category.
Celebrity judges include Jessica Clark, First Coast News anchor; Troy Blevins, Walking Man Master of Ceremonies and WFOY Radio personality; Allie Olsen of simplystaugustine.com; Lord Artos (in costume), traveled through Stonehenge from 600BC to be a judge; and Renee Unsworth, totallystaugustine.com.
The St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival will open at 11 a.m. following the parade at Francis Field. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 14 (right after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade); and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 15. The Whisky Tasting event begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 13, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
To purchase tickets in advance, go to celticstaugustine.com or at Ann O’Malley’s 23 Orange St., downtown St. Augustine.
For more information about the parade or the festival, go to celticstaugustine.com.