PHOTOS: Marco Island St. Patrick's Day Parade 2012

Marco Island celebrated St. Patrick's Day early, with a parade up Bald Eagle Drive and a community party at Veterans' Community Park. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Marco Island celebrated St. Patrick's Day early, with a parade up Bald Eagle Drive and a community party at Veterans' Community Park. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Marco Island got connected with that other Emerald Isle on Sunday afternoon, when the Sons and Daughters of Erin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade filled Bald Eagle Drive with Irish dancing, the sound of marching bands, and everywhere, the color green.

Spectators lined the road near the intersection of Bald Eagle and West Elkcam Circle, where the parade took a left turn over toward Veterans’ Community Park, listening for the sound of approaching marchers. Nearly everybody wore green one way or another, and there were plenty o’ Irishmen, of both the actual and once-a-year varieties.

They soaked up the sunlight on an unseasonably warm day, or huddled in the shade. Terry Savard brought her book – “a love story,” she said – and got a little reading done while waiting. Jo Ellen Oggier had a perch on the stone bulkhead with the cemetery behind, a big green Irish hat, and a cup of beer in her hand.

Occasional blasts from the siren of the lead fire truck were the first indication the parade was nearing, and then the Lely High School marching band could be heard approaching from the south. When the parade arrived, four Leprechauns on two motorcycles led the way. A long fire engine, with City Council Chairman Jerry Gibson riding shotgun, followed, and then the Lely band, or about 70 of the total contingent.

“It’s tough to get all the kids out on a Sunday afternoon,” said band director John Stein, marching alongside his musicians, but they made a big sound and were greatly appreciated by the crowd.

The largest group in the parade was another marching band, from the Marco Island Charter Middle School. Somewhere between 150 and 170 musicians marched and played, wearing shirts that urged “Don’t stop the music.” School principal George Abounader was marching alongside the school’s banner, but ducked out of line when he saw a press photographer.

“That’s a great example of the abilities of kids,” said Steve Stefanides, who worked with the Sons & Daughters of Erin to put the parade together. “At the start of the school year, they didn’t know how to play, and now they sound great. (Band director) Martie Miller does a wonderful job with them.”

Collier Commisioner Donna Fiala waved from an open convertible, as did Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards, and parade Grand Marshal Dick Shanahan, standing with his wife Debra, as well as candidates for office and representatives of the new Marco radio station, 98.1-FM, “the Island.”

The Sons & Daughters contingent included a bagpiper, serving to remind the Scots that, according to some histories, the bagpipes were imported to Scotland from Ireland – some say as a joke.

The Celtic Spirit School of Irish Dance put on an exhibition of traditional steps, on a flatbed truck, and the St. Baldrick’s float, with a barber shaving away, reminded islanders of that upcoming event, Friday at Cathy O’Clarke’s, to raise funds for the fight against children’s cancer.

The parade finished up at Veterans Park, and, like so many events on Marco Island, turned into a community party. The beer flowed, Sister Kaite entertained with Irish songs under the big tent, and the Celtic Spirit dancers came back to do a dance demonstration without having to be on a moving truck.

“It’s a little hometown hokey, but what a great thing for the community,” said Stefanides.

© 2012 gonaples.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Sessions