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Irish spirit sweeps over city

People in downtown Oak Harbor saw green Thursday afternoon as throngs of parade walkers dressed in green to celebrate their Irish heritage or to simply have a good time during Oak Harbor’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

The parade traveled along Pioneer Way through downtown Oak Harbor to the Blarney Stone next to the windmill at City Beach Park. Joining the walkers were members of the All-Island Community Band, a color guard and a fire engine. Residents, some of whom were dressed in green or draped with the flag of Ireland, stood on sidewalks cheering parade-goers as they marched by.

The highlight of the parade came at the end when everyone arrived at the park where community leaders followed tradition by kissing the Blarney Stone.

Mayor Patty Cohen thanked everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to attend a light-hearted event and she said a blessing.

“May you have the hindsight to know where you came from, the foresight to know where you’re going and the insight to know when you’ve gone too far,” Cohen said.

She followed up the blessing by kissing the stone while the crowd surrounding the mayor cheered her on.

After Cohen finished her mayoral duty, Capt. Syd Abernethy, commanding officer of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, followed.

“Abernethy is a Scottish name but today I’m O’Abernethy,” Abernethy said.

He talked briefly about VAQ-131 and its efforts in helping victims of the tsunami.

He too kissed the Blarney Stone.

Following the kissings, the crowd sang Irish hymms. The singing continued at a restaurant as the St. Patrick’s Day celebration headed into the night.

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