This past Saturday was a bright and chilly day for Raleigh's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade! Inis Cairde had close to 100 dancers and family members marching (and jigging) along behind our friend Kevin's antique red truck, decked out, of course, in the colors of the Irish flag.
From year to year, we never know what the March weather will bring, so this year our dancers bundled up in tracksuits, scarves, mittens, and tons of creative shamrock shenanigans to enjoy the experience and bond with their friends. We love the parade! Our sincere thanks to the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee for all of their hard work organizing this event that gets more impressive every year.
While the talk of snow gave everyone a shudder, thankfully the sun was out and the parade route was warmly supported by loads of local folks who were treated to everything from Irish dancers and pipe and drum bands to Irish wolfhounds, roller skaters, tae kwon do, shriners and pub floats. Something for everyone! Our absolute favorite Irish community leader and dear friend Annie Nice, whose new Tir na nOg just opened downtown next to London Bridge, was the grand marshal this year and we were thrilled for her! Her contribution to the Irish community in the Triangle is without equal.
The Durham Rescue Mission Band brought the parade to a close in their upbeat, exciting rhythms and dancing. For those of you newer to the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Durham Rescue Mission Band has been a fixture at the end of the parade, since before there were even any Irish dancers in the area! Their enthusiasm always ends the parade on such a dynamic note-- for the festivities that follow every year, it's the best possible send-off.
During the parade route, our dancers enjoyed jig after jig, skipping down the street hand-in-hand with their friends and teachers, and handing out candy and postcards to the families in attendance. After the traditional school photo was taken of everyone together, our dancers had a final practice in front of the Progress Energy Center for our 1:30pm show at the courthouse steps. Our families went off to enjoy the vendors, music and bands featured as part of the day, then reconvened at the courthouse to support all of the dancing schools, and put on a spectacular show for the crowd that featured our beginners and advanced beginners all the way up through championship and adult dancers. Our big finale, known to all of our alums as The Big Finish, celebrated its 15th year of being performed at the Raleigh St. Patrick's Day Parade, and no matter how many times we do it, it's always the big fun that all of the dancers look forward to all year.
Later that afternoon, featured band Enter the Haggis invited our dancers to join them on several tunes; what an exciting afternoon! After more bundled dancing and serious footwork to keep the feet warm, we finished up on the deck of Tir na nOg, celebrating with Annie and ringing in the St. Pat's Season properly!
And Sunday? Well, I believe that most of us did a lot of sleeping ;)