HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Irish or not, some 400-thousand people come to Holyoke each year to enjoy step dancing, marching bands and Irish music.
For parade committee members like Marc Joyce, each year brings with it new memories. “The nicest thing I’ve ever experienced is going down the parade route and looking at all of the people and seeing how happy they are. It’s a just great, great day for Holyoke and for all of western Massachusetts,” he said.
Celebrating the luck of the Irish began a week before the parade with an annual breakfast to celebrate Holyoke’s deep Irish roots.
That celebrating continues now past St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday and through the weekend: first, with Saturday’s 40th Saint Patrick’s 10-K Road Race, and then Sunday’s big parade.
This year, thousands of spectators will line up on Northampton St. March 22nd to watch the parade kick off.
Mary Lou Gillon remembers the parade from the very beginning. “I was in the very first parade on a float, for Sacred Heart in Holyoke, I think it was 1952. I love it, I just love the parade and I love the spirit of the people,” she said.
You might think being a part of the parade for that many years is rare, but you’d be surprised.
For this year’s Grand Marshal Ray Fehre, the parade is more than a tradition; it’s a special day he gets to spend with the people he met more than 35-years ago. “It’s the people you’ve worked with for so many years, and really, it’s the memories of the fine parades, the fine events, and it’s going to be beautiful weekend,” he said.
With all the snow we’ve had this winter, Department of Public Works crews spent days clearing snow away from the parade route to make sure March 22nd would be green instead of white.