York Catholic High School graduate Ward Walsh still remembers York’s first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
It was 33 years ago, and from the moment his wife read about it in the newspaper, he knew he wanted to be involved.
On the day of the parade, he said he grabbed his children, a poster board and their dog Molly – dyed green, of course – and began a family tradition of marching in the parade.
In the last 33 years, Walsh – who is 100 percent Irish – said he's only missed three parades. And since the first one, his entry has grown in size.
Last year, about 35 Walsh family members marched alongside their signature Irish cottage float on the back of a flatbed truck, he said. But this year will be the Walsh family’s biggest entry yet.
Walsh – who was named the 2016 parade grand marshal at a news conference Wednesday morning – will lead the parade on March 12 with about 50 family members close behind.
Several cousins will make the trip from the West Coast to march with the Irish cottage float.
“It’s a real pleasure,” Walsh said about being named grand marshal. “It’s a tradition I’ve always valued for my kids. It’s nice for them to have a sense of tradition and where they came from.”
The volunteer-run parade will step off at 1 p.m. from Market and Penn streets and proceed east on Market to Duke Street in downtown York, according to a news release.
Spectators are encouraged to come early to Continental Square for caricatures, face painting, coloring and to find a good seat. About 10,000 people are expected to attend this year, organizer Mary Yeaple said. Pre-parade festivities will kick off at 11:15 a.m.
Also at Continental Square, Fair Interpreting will provide sign language interpreting services for the deaf and hard of hearing as the parade entries pass the reviewing stand.
About 100 entries are expected, including a new Irish dance group and two new floats celebrating York Water Company’s 200th anniversary and York city’s 275th anniversary, Yeaple said. Spectators will also see bands, antique and decorated vehicles, clowns, organizations, family groups and media entries.
More than $2,000 will be awarded, including a $400 prize for Best of Parade.
Registration information is available at www.YorkSaintPatricksDayParade.org or by calling 717-578-0146. The deadline to enter is Feb. 17.
The parade will be televised live on White Rose Community Television Channel 18 and can also be viewed online at www.WRCT.tv.