St. Pat’s parade set to entertain March 19

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The City of Dunedin Pipe Band marches and plays on the parade route in a past Beach Bistro celebration. The bistro’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take step off at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19, in Holmes Beach. Islander File Photo

Anna Maria Island will show off its enthusiasm for all things Irish Sunday, March 19.

Sean Murphy, the Beach Bistro, Eat Here and the Doctor’s Office will present the 18th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Murphy, in a news release, said the idea for the parade was hatched in a bar. He and journalist Vin Mannix were “toasting St. Patrick’s parades of their ill-spent youth” and they resolved to have a parade on the island.

Over the years, the parade has grown to become the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade “south and east of Savannah, Georgia. It may also be the only St. Patrick’s parade south and east of Savannah, Georgia,” according to Murphy.

The parade — always on Sunday, and this year two days after the holiday — will depart from the Eat Here parking lot at the corner of Marina and Gulf drives and travel north on Marina Drive and then Palm Drive. The parade will end near 79th Street.

Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson and World War II veteran Bob Schwaeger, who was in the second wave of the Allied invasion at Omaha Beach on D-Day, will lead the procession of community groups, civic leaders, marching bands, pipe bands floats, trailered boats and the Pittsburgh Pirates mascot.

Previous parades featured an appearance by “Judy” the circus elephant, who died last year. This year, the parade will feature her longtime companion, “Mr. Bones” the camel.

Parade participants — Murphy invites anyone and everyone to join — will gather about 2 p.m. and the parade will step off at 4 p.m.

When asked about his motivation for staging the parade, Murphy has said, “I did it for my kids when they were little. It was great fun for the family to have its own parade. Now we do it for all the kids and all the families.”

He said at some point during the parade, he and Mannix and bistro bartender Fred “Sully” Sullivan will “stop and look at the crowd and the bands and balloons” and “marvel at all the chaos we have created without getting thrown in jail.”

For more information, call the Beach Bistro at 941-778-6444.

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