Another mild St. Patrick’s Day in the month of March made for the largest and longest parade in its 25 year history. Thousands lined the Kenai Spur Highway from Bailey’s Furniture to the “Y” intersection to cheer the wearing of the green and collect an abundance of candies liberally given by parade participants. Traffic was backed up for nearly a half hour as the parade marched its course. Historically mild weather hasn’t been the norm in March so St. Patrick’s Day parades have only been a signature of Soldotna’s love of the Irish spearheaded by Michael Sweeney and his “Working Man’s & Woman’s and Children’s” store and his fervent support of the local community. “There were five or six vehicles in the first parade, it lasted a couple of minutes. There was going to be a fire truck, but they got called to a fire,” Sweeney told the Dispatch. Through the years the parade has never been canceled through rain and snow and sleet or hail nothing has stopped Sweeney’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on whatever day of the week it happened to fall.
Following the parade at Mykel’s the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce held a member mixer featuring corn beef and cabbage with the honored guest Mike Sweeney. Sweeney spoke of his early beginnings in business with his father, who passed away earlier this year and his first partner Ron Malston before he bought the business and named it Sweeney’s. He also spoke of the importance of advertising, customer service and giving back to the community as being imperative to running a strong business in a small town. Success seems to be attributed more to the “Work of the Irish and the heart of the Irish,” than the “Luck of the Irish.”