The Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is in search of more green—not shamrocks or leprechauns, but dollars: sustainable, predictable cash that can fund the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Southeast.
Since 1983, families and visitors of all heritages have flocked downtown to celebrate all things Irish, but after some recent changes in city policy, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is running out of gold at the end of its rainbow.
In 2012, the city council started charging downtown event organizers, including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for the additional police and security forces.
Frank Mellage, former chair of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is uncertain why the city started charging parade organizers when for so long there was an agreement in place.
“Not only could we provide the parade and bring business to downtown, but there was money leftover that we donated to charities like Helping Hand and Wounded Warrior Project,” Mellage said.
John Boyette, senior public affairs specialist for the city, said, “It was a change for everyone. The parade was not singled out.”
Despite the reason, parade organizers have tried to come up with creative ways to ensure the road rises to meet the lovers of all things Celtic.
Mathew Burke, treasurer of the Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, the 501c3 that organizes the event, said outside help will ensure the parade takes place as scheduled, Saturday, March 12.
“Shanahan law group and other sponsors have really stepped up their commitment to make sure the parade will go on,” Burke says.
But according to Mellage, “It’s going to need a major media sponsor, or the city will need to reverse its decision for the parade to have a definite future long term,” he said.
Burke said he’s confident people will work together to make sure the parade doesn’t disappear.
“It isn’t about green beer,” says Burke. “It’s about community and families and celebrating St. Patrick and what he did for an entire country and culture. I know I will fight hard to make sure my daughter has the experience of coming out and celebrating.”
Check out these other events o’ the Irish in March
SATURDAY, MARCH 12
Wearin’ ‘O the Green Festival
Directly following the parade, this City Plaza festival includes rides for the kids, a bounce house and Celtic arts and wares from local vendors as well as dancing and live music. Parade starts at 10 a.m. and the festival is immediately following until 7 p.m. Raleighstpats.org
SATURDAY, MARCH 12
Hibernian St. Paddy’s Festival
It’s a party at the 300 Glenwood South block, featuring Irish dancing and food and drink specials all day. From noon-11 p.m., no cover. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Shop Local Raleigh. Hibernianpub.com
THURSDAY, MARCH 17
Fill up on Irish fare, including Bangers and Mash, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Fish & Chips, Soda Bread and Irish stew—an all-you-can-eat buffet for $14.99. Wash it down with $6 Irish whiskeys and $4 Irish pints. Live music from 6 to 11 p.m. Seats are first come-first serve. Saintsandscholarspub.com