Despite tall snow berms and glaciated sidewalks, Soldotna hosted its 26th St. Patrick’s Day parade March 17.
According to the city’s resident leprechaun Michael Sweeney, the founder of Alaska’s only St. Patrick’s Day parade, in spite of the cold weather it was the longest and maybe even the best attended parade since its inception.
“It started in 1991 in cooperation with the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce to not only celebrate St. Patty’s Day, but to encourage local commerce in the early spring shoulder season,” Sweeney told the Dispatch. “We’ve seen all types of weather from windy and cold to sunny and warm last year, to cold but sunny today and the participants in the parade and those bringing their families out to see it keep growing. This looks like the biggest one ever.”
The Redmond family with has worn the green and participated in most every parade of the last quarter century and the last few years Tom and Sonja have mustered three generations to pass out candy along the parade route.
“St. Mikey always makes sure we’re all here. The whiskers have turned a bit silver from gold but they’re still pure Irish and more and more folks turnout because it’s just plain fun with the sun shining and St. Patty smiling,” said the Redmonds.
As the VFW Post No. 10046 led the parade with the Stars and Stripes they were followed by green cars, lemon heads promoting Lemonade Day coming in June, beauty queen Miss State Farm, and a host of elementary school classes, dancers, boxers, businesses and equestrian riders all wearing an array of green costumes. The Peninsula Clarion family walked from Bailey’s Furniture to the “Y” passing out free newspapers to go with all the free candy.
Not waiting for the Fourth of July and Progress Day Parades, Borough Mayor candidates Dale Bagley and Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings both rode in the parade. Both were raised in the area and both remember the days when there was no St. Patrick’s Day parade and both agreed that the parade was a lot of fun for the kids and everyone who turns out for the celebration.