Sunday's cold weather might have dampened somewhat the attendance at the 30th annual Leavenworth St. Patrick's Day Parade, but not the spirit.
Irish families, civic organizations, bands and businesses displayed their Irish pride along the parade route in downtown Leavenworth for hundreds of spectators, most of them also decked out in green.
One of the parade's organizers, Tim Scanlon, said chilly temperatures may have kept some visitors at home, but added that he still believes the event was a success.
“I think it went as well as could be expected,” he said. “It might not have gone at all if not for the committee members.”
That's because the parade's two longtime organizers, Darlene Kenny and Dona Thibault, both passed away in 2012, leaving Scanlon to take charge a year earlier than expected. He credited the longtime committee members with working to make sure all of the pieces for the parade were in place.
Throughout much of the parade, organizers and participants made frequent reference to the two sisters, who together ran the parade for 29 years.
“They were at every parade since it began,” announcer Nancy Bauder said during the parade.
Scanlon said he felt they may have also had an active role in what didn't happen during the parade ― rain didn't fall in Leavenworth until after 2:30 p.m., once the procession and most spectators had left
“I think Darlene and Donna had an umbrella over us,” he said. “That was the main thing ― if it had been raining I don't think we would have had anybody.”
More than 100 floats and entrants were expected for the parade. The grand marshals were Don and Marilyn Murray of Lansing, who were picked for their Irish heritage and long history of volunteer work in the community.
Cmdt. Gareth Prendergast of Ireland, an international student at Fort Leavenworth's Command and General Staff College, served as the honorary grand marshal along with this family.
Marking the 30th year, the organizing committee invited former grand marshals from the parade's past to participate this year. Two honorary grand marshals, Michael “Mick” Gannon and his wife May and Mary Parsons representing her late husband Denis Parsons, returned from Ireland to sit in the reviewing stand again after stints as the Irish representatives for the parade in 1992 and 1986, respectively.
As far as next year is concerned, Scanlon said the committee would have a sort of wrapup meeting and after-action report April 5 before brainstorming for the 31st annual parade.