Irish on the rocks

Helen Chatfield-Weeks’ jumping, waving and hip-hip-hooraying was probably the wildest thing about the Irish Wildlife’s Society’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday in downtown Oak Harbor.

Green-clad, shillelagh-wagging folks marched down Pioneer Way in the cold wind as many other Irish-types watched and waved from street corners.

Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen, dressed in a shockingly green coat, walked with Navy base commanding officer Capt. Stephen Black and his new wife, Jean. The city’s matriarch, Dorothy Neil, waved out a car window.

A band played. The Garden Club walked with a banner. A couple of clowns clowned around.

Oak Harbor residents Robin and Alan Wynn brought their three children, dressed up in Irish regalia, to watch the parade. “We have Irish roots,” Alan explained.

The cheerful procession filed to the Blarney Stone beneath the windmill in City Beach Park. Father Jack O’Leary led a prayer and Neil offered her own more lighthearted version.

“This is my shillelagh,” she said, motioning to her walker. “Any Irishman in a Dutch town needs one.”

Cohen read a proclamation in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the city’s Irish heritage.

Then it was time for what everyone was waiting for — kissing the Blarney Stone. Mayor Cohen, always practical, first scrubbed the stone down with a bucket of cleaner before puckering up to the rock.

Then it was Capt. Black’s turn. He explained that he’s “one hundred percent Irish” and he and his wife recently honeymooned in Ireland. In fact, he said they both kissed the original Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle. But that didn’t stop him from laying lips — repeatedly, for slow photographers — on the cold stone.

Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock, looking cold in a kilt and socks, played the bagpipe. It wasn’t technically a Irish tradition, but close enough.

The Irish Wildlife Society handed out a bunch of trophies for people with the best Irish-inspired costumes. Then most of the participants hoofed it to Henderson’s restaurant to get warm, sing songs and chat about all things Irish.

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