(March 22, 2019) The 40th annual Ocean City St. Patrick’s Day parade, held last Saturday, was a huge success and has now become the largest holiday procession in the state.
The parade, sponsored by the Delmarva Irish-American Club, saw the most participation since its inception, about 124 entries. An estimated crowd of about 150,000 people watched the procession along Coastal Highway.
“I believe we are the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the state [with participants] in our parade from states as far away as New York,” Rick Meehan, Ocean City mayor and president of the Delmarva Irish-American Club, said. “When I looked online for the Baltimore parade, they said they had over 100 entries from a three-state area.
“I think that this parade has grown over the years,” he continued. “People come to Ocean City just to be a part of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend and bring their families to enjoy the parade. It’s created the biggest weekend of the year between Labor Day and Memorial Day and it’s in the middle of March. We feel great about it and I think it’s great for Ocean City.”
“We had 124 entries, many of them had multiple pieces in their entry, such as Seacrets with three [and] the Boumi Temple had three very large individual entries under one heading,” Buck Mann, board member of the Delmarva Irish-American Club, said. “It’s a great day for the partying types, but it’s amazing how many children line the parade route dressed in their finest green. It’s truly amazing to see.”
Thousands of people flocked to the sidewalks from 60th Street down to 45th Street to watch the 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The parade ended at 45th Street where a festival took place in the shopping center parking lot.
Good weather was also credited for the large number of spectators.
“Weather is always a factor, but the popularity of the parade brings them out,” Mann said.
Traffic issues on Coastal Highway have always been a concern during parades, though this year proved to be no more or less congested than previous years.
In order to offer an ample amount of space for the parade’s participating floats, bands and motorized units, southbound traffic was reduced to one lane from 63rd Street to 43rd Street on Saturday.
Northbound traffic remained open; however, no left turns or U-turns were allowed along the parade route from the northbound lane, including 62nd Street.
The traffic pattern was set up by the Ocean City Public Works Department at 10 a.m. and remained in place until about 3 p.m.
“Due to the volume of people in town and having to remove three lanes of traffic, we always expect delays during the parade,” Ocean City Police Department Communications Manager Lindsay Richard said. “This year was no different, however, traffic congestion was relatively the same as previous years during this time. We want to thank everyone for their patience during the busy day.”
Traffic aside, the weekend proved to be yet another safe and successful St. Patrick’s Day weekend from the police department’s perspective, Richard said.
“When compared to last year, calls for service increased slightly but arrests were cut nearly in half,” she said.
The festivities from last weekend also saw a lot of green for hotels, motels, restaurants and businesses in the area.
“It was a really strong weekend, by all measures,” Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, said. “I don’t have actual numbers but just in talking to a few people and experiencing Ocean City myself this weekend, it was very busy. The restaurants were busy.
“We love St. Patrick’s Day because it really makes everyone come out of hibernation,” Jones added. “It gives people a reason to come to the beach for a fun-filled weekend. The fact that the sun was shining certainly helped increase occupancy.”
Overall, the parade was considered the most successful one to date.
“The volunteer help from the club is what contributes to the success. Many of our local businesses help in the effort to make this a success,” Mann said. “Also, the cooperation from the town, public works and the police department is truly amazing and most appreciated. Comments from many of the local businesses establishes this as the kick-off weekend for our season.”
Meehan attributes the success of the parade to the sponsors and organizers of the event.
“We have over 80 volunteers participating on parade day on both the parade and the Irish festival, which takes place at 45th Street Village where the parade ends,” Meehan said. “All the proceeds from this parade event go back into the community. We’ve given back $500,000 during the last 40 years as a result of this parade.
“Each year we give $25,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors in Stephen Decatur High School,” he continued. “This is truly a community event that gives back to the community.”
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.