More floats, more fun at this year's St. Pat's Parade

More floats, more fun at this year's St. Pat's Parade

You don't have to be Irish to enjoy Pawtucket's annual St. Patrick's Parade which steps off at noon this Saturday. In addition to scenes like these from past year's festivities, parade goers can expect marching bands, six bagpipe bands, acrobats and many more floats.
Festivities return to the city Saturday

PAWTUCKET - This year's Pawtucket St. Patrick's Parade, once again expanded in its 32nd year, will step off this Saturday, March 1, at noon from McCoy Stadium. As usual, the parade will be held rain, snow or shine, say organizers.

This year's co-chairmen of the parade, Arthur Brunelle and Tom Rogers, are inviting everyone to bring their children and friends "as we celebrate this great Pawtucket tradition."

You don't have to be Irish to make a day of it and enjoy the fun, they say. All are invited to line the parade route to cheer for friends and neighbors. Enjoy marching bands, pipers, acrobats and various floats. Raymond Mathieu, legendary former owner of the East Side Checker Club, is the star of the show as grand marshal.

After the parade the festivities continue with a "gigantic fun-filled party" at the Armory next to Tolman High School. 172 Exchange St.

The parade will be preceded by the Irish 5K, one of five races making up the Tour de Patrick. The road race will start at 11 a.m. For more information, visit .

According to Brunelle, the six-division Pawtucket St. Patrick's Parade will feature six bagpipe bands, one more than usual, and "a lot more floats" than last year. Many parade vendors sold out of merchandise in 2013, said Brunelle, meaning more resources could go toward this year's parade. The Blues Brothers tribute band and Rolling Thunders motorcycle group will both be featured, as will a new marching band from Tolman High School.

Unlike later St. Patrick's Day parades in Providence and Newport, Pawtucket pulls everyone in for one big party that generates money to make the parade just as good, or better, next year, said Brunelle. Having an estimated 1,200 runners arrive at the Armory after their race certainly helps the cause, he said.

The hope, according to Rogers, is that this year's parade and after-party will raise so much revenue that the parade committee will be able to make it even better in 2015. Brunelle said the parade has drawn more and more families with children each of the past several years, and organizers hope that trend will continue.

The Pawtucket St. Patrick's Parade will be staged at the Jenks Jr. High School parking lot and McCoy Stadium lot. It will head down Division Street, then turn left at St. Joseph Church and continue down Walcott Street, where it will cross I-95. The parade will then head down to the end of Broadway at the river, where it will turn right onto the Main Street bridge and hook another right onto Roosevelt Avenue. It will end at the Pawtucket City Hall reviewing stand.

For more on the Pawtucket St. Patrick's Parade, visit .