SC Johnson's Leprechaun Escort
More Images and Highlights - 50th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade
Bay City St. Pat's Parade Awards Ceremony Held at City Hall
March 28, 2004
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By: Stephen Kent
It's hard to forget last week's 50th anniversary St. Patrick's Day parade. Jan Rau, VP of the St. Pat's Parade Association, said that that an estimated 2,800 people participated in this year's event. When one thinks about it, it's somewhat amazing to see such a large volunteer run event sustain itself in today's busy society.
According to Rau, the parade association works around the year to raisefunds, organize events, and then stage the parade. The annual budget is close to $20,000. Insurance alone is about $4,000 per year with $2,500 of that being coverage for the parade itself. Other expenses include some $700 for porta johns, $500 to the city for street cleanup, and some $2,200 in scholarship awards.
Discussing clean up costs revealed an interesting fact.The Parade Association does not allow participants to throw candy or souvenirs from floats or even to distribute literature. That's partly due to cleanup requirements. But the rule is also necessary to limit the liability of the association, the city, and the participants. Rau says that there are simply too many risks of injury from thrown objects and from kids darting into the parade route trying to catch goodies.
An award ceremony was held at City Hall on Friday night. Parade Queen Katie Runberg and runners up Shawna O'Shea and Sara McDonough were presented with plaques and scholarships. Cub Scout Troop 3162 and Heart of Ireland Gift Shop won the "Best Wee Irish" award. Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival was the "Most Beautiful Out of Town" entry and Independent bank was the "Most Beautiful In Town" winner.
This year's event was one of the largest St. Pat's Parades in the community's history. The 2004 parade, because of its size, featured many new participants and some very noteworthy entries including the following winners.
Winner of the Mayor's Trophy
for the best overall entry was the Meagher Family
of Hampton Township. The award was well deserved for more reasons than just having a beautiful float. The Meagher Family has supported the parade for almost the entire 50 year history. William Meagher, the patriarch of the family, was the Parade Marshall in 1958 and has been a major supported ever since.
This year's Meagher float was designed to celebrate the float's history. The self propelled float (one of only two such in the parade) featured small representations of many of the family's floats from past years. Members of the extended family from around the state came home to help finish the float.
According to Rau, the Meagher's almost didn't make it to the parade. A flat tire coming into town disabled the float and the weight of the structure made fixing it very difficult. The family was considering options, even the possibility of dropping out, when a Hampton Township police officer came on the scene. He reportedly told them that they simply could not abandon the parade and he helped them get repaired and make it to the lineup in time.
This year SC Johnson & Son
entered a float in the parade and won the President's Trophy
for the best use of an Irish theme. Construction of the float was coordinated by Don Middleton and involved a crew of some 30 people.
The SC Johnson entry was hard to miss with their great Leprechaun escort (seen at the top of this article). The costumes have a story of their own. Unable to find suitable suits locally, the company finally located a source in Ireland and imported their costumes.
The SC Johnson float was the other float, besides the Meagher Family, which was self-propelled rather than towed.
Perhaps the most unforgettable entry was also the tallest to ever be in the parade: Art Van's Flicker
dragon balloon. The 43 foot tall, helium filled balloon came from Art Van's Detroit office. Flicker is something of an Art Van mascot and is featured in children's areas at many Art Van Stores.
Flicker presented something of a challenge to parade organizers. The balloon had some 20 handlers and required about two hours to inflate. Besides the concern with getting the giant under wires, trees and other obstacles,the organizers had move the entry back in the lineup to find open space in the staging area so that the balloon could be inflated.
In actual practice, the parade route proved to be no problem for the 20 handlers. They nimbly dipped Flicker in a graceful bow to pass under wires, lights and other obstructions.
Like spring flowers, the life of a parade float is short. With no place to store such a creation, many floats are dismantled within days of the parade. Decorations disappear and bare trailers and commercial vehicles emerge.
MyBayCity.com and all the citizens of the Bay Area thank the St. Patrick's Day Parade Association and all the parade participants for helping us all welcome Spring with such a grand parade.
Be sure to see last week's St. Pats Parade Photo Spread
St. Pats pictures have also been featured as recent Photos of the Day
Community Article 397
Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 30 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.
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