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Irish eyes smile on Oak Harbor during St. Patrick’s Day parade

By NATHAN WHALEN Whidbey News-Times Staff reporter
March 20, 2013 · 9:32 AM
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Oak Harbor resident Helen Chatfield-Weeks leads the crowd in a “hip, hip, hooray.” / Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Everybody is a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Hundreds of people showed their Irish pride when they donned their green and watched the St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday that rolled through downtown Oak Harbor.

The light-hearted affair, organized each year by the Irish Wildlife Society, featured an award winning bagpiper, Lynden-based Beau Lindsey, who performed along the parade route behind two color guards –- one from Oak Harbor High School’s NJROTC unit and from MATSG-53.

Community volunteer and photographer K.C. Pohtilla was tapped to be grand marshal for the 40th anniversary of the parade. She was accompanied by her husband and several of her children.

Antique cars, members of community groups and the pirate boat from the Oak Harbor Yacht Club were some of the participants in the parade that started at the corner of Midway Boulevard and Pioneer Way traveled through downtown Oak Harbor before ending up at the Windjammer Park windmill.

The blustery weather and drizzle didn’t stop the hundreds of people from watching the parade.

Andy Mahoney, pastor of Grace Community church near Oak Harbor, and Lt. Jon Rozema, chaplain at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, offered prayers, Paul Kuzina led the green-clad crowd in singing “Danny Boy” and “Irish Eyes are Smiling.” Oak Harbor High School choir students performed Celtic “mouth music.”

Local town cheerleader Helen Chatfield Weeks gave several rousing “hip, hip, hoorays” throughout the ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Pohtilla and Oak Harbor City Councilman Bob Severns took turns kissing the Blarney Stone that’s in place at Windjammer Park Park. Severns joked that Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley has managed to avoid kissing the Blarney Stone in recent years.

 

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