V.I. plans parades to celebrate St. Patrick's Day


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ST. CROIX - The Celtic Crucians will be celebrating the little bit of Irish in everyone on Saturday, as the 45th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade gets under way in downtown Christiansted.

"It's a fun day for everybody who wants to come down. It's the best day, the best parade on the island," said Lou Stefani, treasurer of the Celtic Crucians Committee, which puts on the parade. "It's one of our best traditions too."

Theme for the event is "Better Days Comin'."

The committee this year has chosen St. Croix Animal Welfare Center as beneficiary of the event.

"They are in dire straits," Stefani said. "And there's just not a lot of money out there. So we thought, well, maybe that ought to be our recipient this year. It's a win-win."

After expenses are paid, the committee typically donates the proceeds generated through vendors' fees and through the sale of T-shirts and beer koozies at the parade to a local cause, according to Stefani.

"We sell the T-shirts and koozies to help offset expenses," he said. "Then we're usually able to give our money back to the community."

In recent years, beneficiaries have included The Roseway, Court-Appointed Special Advocates of the Virgin Islands and the Boys and Girls Club, he said.

Participation in the parade - and the number of spectators - has grown since the parade started in 1969 with a group of local businessmen who got together at a Christiansted watering hole and decided they should celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Stefani said.

"Within minutes, the first St. Patrick's Day Parade was born. Without further ado, a stakebed truck was commandeered and piano put on top," the committee's website says. "The newly organized committee and fellow supporters were aboard singing Irish and local songs and saluting shoppers and shopkeepers, who came out to see what all the noise was about."

This year, organizers anticipate about 22 floats and a marching band and other entries, Stefani said.

"It's going to be great," he said. "We'll get 5,500 people milling around downtown. We take over all of downtown except the waterfront and the side streets."

The grand marshal for the parade is DJ Kathleen Rose McMannis.

The Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on St. Croix is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Christiansted. For more information, go to www.stpatricksday paradestcroixvi.com.

St. Patrick's Day celebrations also are planned for other islands.

On St. John, which boasts the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade, the fun begins at 11 a.m. Saturday. Festivities include a march from the fire station in Cruz Bay across the street to the Quiet Mon Pub, followed by a street party until late in the evening.

On St. Thomas, the annual St. Patrick's Day festivities in Red Hook begin about noon on Monday, with a parade around Red Hook beginning at 2 p.m. Other festivities include Irish bands, a bagpiper and Irish dancers.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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