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Oak Harbor celebrates Irish spirit in style
The first parade on the newly redone Pioneer Way brought out the Irish in everyone with the help of green shamrocks, oversized leprechaun hats and a kiss to the Blarney Stone.
Among the groups participating in the 39th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday were the Oak Harbor Community Band, Oak Harbor High School Key Club, cheerleaders and Man’s Choir, Whidbey YaYas, Crab Queens, Oak Harbor Garden Club, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, the Oak Harbor Yacht Club and the grand marshals, Pat and Patty McKinnon, riding in convertibles with the Whidbey Cruzers.
Miciah Smiley, 4, happily gathered candy during the parade.
“I especially loved the fire trucks and there was a fire truck,” Miciah Smiley said.
His sister, Micayla Smiley, 2, and their dad, Michael Smiley, also enjoyed the parade despite their lack of Irish ancestry.
“I like everything about it,” Michael Smiley said of the parade.
Kathleen Pendleton and her family come to the parade every year to commemorate their Irish heritage.
“Just to celebrate the Irish spirit,” Pendleton said as her children, Michael Pendleton, 3, and Joshua Pendleton, 9, relished the green goodies they’d gotten during the parade.
After the parade, Jim Ryan led a ceremony at the windmill near Windjammer Park. Oak Harbor Mayor Pro Tem Danny Paggao --- going by “Danny Boy” for the day --- read a proclamation from Mayor Scott Dudley before kissing the Blarney Stone.
“Just to let you know, that stone has been purified with good Irish beer,” Ryan told the crowd.
The Oak Harbor High School Man’s Choir, with director Darren McCoy on the penny whistle, performed, and Paul Kuzina sang “Danny Boy” and asked the crowd to join in singing the chorus of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”
One of many of Helen Chatfield-Weeks’ famous “hip, hip hoorays” went out to the merchants of Pioneer Way for letting the parade close the street as participants walked the wrong way down the newly one-way street.
The McKinnons won the award for bringing the most Irish relatives. Among them were Nikki Fetters and Taryn Sparacio, both Patty McKinnon’s nieces, who said they had fun at the parade.
“There were a lot of people there, too, which was nice,” Fetters said.