Every year at St. Patrick’s Day my hometown of Erin, Tennessee, holds an Irish Celebration. The celebration honors the Irish roots of the community and, during the Celebration, everyone in town is Irish.
In March 2011, we attended the annual parade. Thousands lined the main street to watch. Both before and afterward celebrants enjoyed the food, music, carnival and crafts.
Weather in March doesn’t always cooperate, but in 2011 bright sunshine blessed the celebration. Main Street was closed at 9:30, and by 10 the local wee ones dressed as leprecans began the long treck through the center of town. Traditionally, the children’s parade leads the way. Youngsters dressed in every shade of green walked and rode assorted vehicles past the crowds of onlookers.
St. Patrick himself, portrayed by a local pastor, led the main event. Continental soldiers carried the colors flanked by Tennessee frontiersmen. The parade lasted more than two hours and included everything imaginable. The local high school band plus a naval band and two separate bagpipe units provided music. Local beauties, from infants to teens, rode in convertibles, in pickups and on floats. Firetrucks and military vehicles added color. Members of a Middle Tennessee Miata club showcased their vehicles. Clowns entertained, while vendors hawked their wares.
Every Shriner unit in Tennessee must have joined the celebration. Motorcycles, mini-cars, buses filled with clowns, and other assorted vehicles circled and roared through town providing lots of fun for all.
A highlight of the parade for me was a flat-bed truck carrying civil war vintage cannon and re-enactors. Confederate infantrymen marched behind the truck and periodically fired their rifles. Many parade goers were startled by the loud volleys. Quite impressive.
The parade would not have been complete without the numerous floats portraying the annual theme. Proud owners rode beautiful horses and drove antique tractors. Almost every unit tossed candy and beads to the crowd sending kids scurrying to retrieve the goodies. My hometown really put on a fabulous parade enjoyed by all.
Both before and after the parade people crowded into the downtown area where numberous stalls sold all types of food, crafts, and souveniers. Artists and craftsmen displayed their works. Bands provided music and the carnival rides served up thrills and screams of delight.
This annual event provides families and old friends the opportunity to get together during high school class reunions and family reunions. This year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, March 17, 2012. Come early and enjoy the day.