Oak Harbor's Irish lead parade down Pioneer

On this blustery Tuesday, a crowd clad in green - including some hairdos - stood by for Oak Harbor's St. Patrick's Day parade march down Pioneer Street.

The "emerald celebration" began at 3:30 p.m., starting at Midway Boulevard and ending at a Blarney Stone at Windjammer Park.

Several crowd conversations revealed at least a bit of Irish heritage.

"I think on my mother's side," parade-goer Manuel Escojido said, who was on his way to Island Cafe for some corned beef and hash.

Regardless of origins, organizers welcomed a motley mix of parade marchers willing to party in Irish style. People turned out in green boas, shamrock earrings and sequined green bow-ties.

Oak Harbor Middle School student Jack Frantz was still carrying his school backpack, when he joined the crowd.

He spray painted his hair green this morning for the occasion.

"Most kids at school were asking why I did it," Frantz said. "I'm Irish."

Couple Bob and Shirlee O'Haugan say on St. Patrick's day, green runs in their veins. Their family originally hailed from Cork and Tyrone counties in Ireland.

"Bob's dad always says that the family was run out of County Cork for stealing horses. I don't know how true that is," Shirlee said with a laugh.

She wore an authentic Irish walking cape that she bought from Blarney Castle in early 2000.

The event continued with a post-parade party at Windjammer Park, where residents kissed the Blarney Stone. According to legend, the kisser is endowed with the gift of gab.

Many locals commented on how much bigger the event was from past years, and Escojido said he was happy to see a family event.

"It's good to have children partake, it can't be all about adults. Plus it's about legacy. It's important for them to know where they come from."

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