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S.L. enjoys splash o' green

Children are the highlight of the 2-hour parade

Green shirts, green cowboy boots, green balloons, green hair and even green dogs flooded Broadway Saturday for the 23rd annual St. Patrick's Day parade sponsored by the Salt Lake City Hibernian Society.

Hundreds bundled up on 300 South, known as Broadway, from 600 East to State Street to see the floats, school bands and bagpipes throughout the chilly morning.

The 135 entries included public officials, such as Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, the parade's grand marshal, local celebrities, such as University of Utah football coach Ron McBride, but children were the crowd-pleasers.

"I love anything that has the kids in it," said Michele Stratton of Salt Lake City, as she ducked into a store doorway to dodge the rain. A few sprinkles hit the crowd, but the sky was clear for most of the two-hour procession.

Stratton said she enjoys the informality of the St. Patrick's Day parade.

"It is the people's parade. It didn't cost a million dollars for a float. They came together with love and happiness just for people to unite," she said.

Nicole Nelson of Bountiful has attended the parade for the past 14 years and likes it almost as much as her 3-year-old daughter Madeline.

"It is a parade of everyday people," she said. "It is not really formal. It is a small-town parade on a big scale."

Madeline stood just off of the curb and hopped continuously while the floats came by.

"The kids love it. We used to come when we were younger, too," Nelson said.

In between the Catholic schools, Scouts and labor unions, a long line of Utah's Irish families participated in the parade.

The Hibernian Society selected families to represent each of the four provinces of Ireland, Chuck Jahne of Salt Lake City said.

Jahne played his bagpipes for the crowds and said the parade's success hinged on the Irish personality.

"The Irish are gregarious. We enjoy enjoying ourselves and on St. Patrick's Day everybody is Irish," he said.

After the parade, the revelers moved to the Gallivan Center for a Siamsa (pronounced shem-sa), a party with Irish food and entertainment.


E-mail: mcanham@desnews.com