By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(March 14, 2019) The 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ocean City, which takes place this Saturday, is the second largest in Maryland and will feature over 120 units.
The Delmarva Irish-American Club sponsors the event, which will start at noon. Parade participants will line up on 61st Street and continues south along Coastal Highway past the 45th Street shopping center where spectators will find a free Irish festival along with the judges’ stand.
“Anyone who knows and understands Ocean City, Maryland, will agree that the town’s energy emanates from the entrepreneurial spirit of its business community,” Dennis Roarty, former president of the Delmarva Irish-American Club, said. “It’s this spirit that gets behind the parade year after year.”
The party on 45th Street will begin at 11 a.m. with green Guinness and domestic beers, Macky’s Bayside Irish coffee bar, musical entertainment by Kevin O’Brennan and the Shoreline Band, face painting, Irish apparel, raffles, food provided by Hooked and BJ’s on the Water, and of course, corned beef sandwiches.
“It is the busiest weekend of the year between now and Labor Day,” Buck Mann, current president of the Delmarva Irish-American Club, said.
The festival will conclude around 3 p.m., although the festivities will continue all night in restaurants and bars throughout Ocean City.
The parade grows annually with at least 120 entries signed up to participate this year, as of Tuesday morning. They will be traveling from states including Maryland, Delaware and New York, as well as Washington D.C., for the event.
Thousands of people view the parade each year along Coastal Highway.
Many resort bars, restaurants, businesses and organizations have participated in the parade over the years including Seacrets, Jolly Roger Amusements, Believe in Tomorrow’s House by the Sea, BJ’s on the Water, Fager’s Island and Smitty McGee’s. New to the parade this year are the Bel Air Social Club, Tow Boats USA and New York firefighters.
For many years, New Wave embroidery shop in West Ocean City has created the apparel for the parade. There will be sweatshirts and T-shirts available for sale during the event.
Pipe and drum bands including the Chesapeake Caledonian Pipe Band, the Camden County Emerald Society Pipes & Drums and the Ocean City Pipe and Drum Band will be performing in the parade along with Stephen Decatur Middle School and Stephen Decatur and Sussex Central high school marching bands.
“More than 40 years ago, St. Patrick’s Day was nearly a non-event in Ocean City,” Roarty said. “[Saturday] thousands of families will come to Ocean City to shake off the winter doldrums, dress in their green finery, watch the parade and celebrate the Irish in all of us.”
Spectators can watch the parade from bleachers at the 45th Street shopping center or along Coastal Highway. To avoid traffic delays, viewers are urged to arrive before 10:30 a.m. and to view the parade from 57th Street south to 45th Street.
For the fourth year, local NBC affiliate WRDE will broadcast the parade live beginning at 11:30 a.m., with hosts Matt Pencek, Madeleine Overturf and Dean Langrall. WBOC will also stream the event live.
The best marching band, commercial float, non-commercial float, motorized unit, adult and youth marching unit, special committee award, top overall entry in the parade and judges’ choice award will take home trophies.
“At exactly 12 noon, the pipes will swirl, the drums will beat, the flags will be unfurled,” Roarty said. “It’s time for the Delmarva Irish-American Club’s St. Patrick’s Day parade … and another Ocean City memory.”
Leading the parade will be Grand Marshals Fran and Michael Patrick Kelly, along with Lillian Farrell, cultural affairs attaché from the Embassy of Ireland.
The Kellys have owned property in Ocean City since 1994. They officially became residents of Ocean City in 2003.
Fran is a member of the Delmarva Irish-American Club, where she heads the Membership Committee. In addition, she is an appointed member of the Ethics Commission for the Town of Ocean City.
She is also an active member of St. Luke Catholic Church where she enjoys volunteering and community fellowship.
In 2003, Michael started his own company, OC Local Construction Services, and loves working with property owners in Ocean City. He is a member of the Delmarva Irish-American Club and an active member of St. Luke Catholic Church.
“We love the St Patrick’s Day parade. It has been a family tradition for many years,” Fran stated in a press release. “We march together and carry the American and Irish flags proudly. We are humbled and honored to be the 2019 grand marshals.”
Proceeds from the parade and festival go to local high school scholarships and charities. This year, donations will be contributed to the Stephen Decatur High School band.
Sponsors for this year’s parade are Seacrets, Fager’s Island, Shenanigan’s Irish Pub, Original Greene Turtle, Tap House, Fish Tales and Jolly Roger Amusements.
The Delmarva Irish-American Club, founded in 1980, has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships with money raised during the parade going toward local organizations such as Coastal Hospice, Northside Park, Stephen Decatur High School and Ocean City Elementary School.
The club now has about 300 members and is open to anyone who is Irish, Irish at heart or who just appreciates all things Irish.
For more information, visit www.delmarvairish.org or contact Buck Mann at 410-289-6156.
In order to offer an ample amount of space for the parade’s participating floats, bands and motorized units, southbound traffic with be reduced to one lane from 63rd Street to 43rd Street on Saturday.
Northbound traffic will remain open; however, no left turns or U-turns will be allowed along the parade route from the northbound lane including 62nd Street.
Residents and visitors will see traffic delays on southbound Coastal Highway as early as 9 a.m. and should expect congestion until after 2 p.m.
To avoid traffic delays, viewers and visitors are urged to arrive before 10:30 a.m. Ocean City Police are recommending motorists entering the Town of Ocean City use Maryland Route 50, as traffic is not expected to be as heavy in the south end of town.
In addition, heavy pedestrian traffic is also expected along the parade route and in surrounding areas. Pedestrians are encouraged to use crosswalks and cross with caution.