Going green for St. Patrick’s Day

Southeast High band
The Southeast High School Marching Band was a big hit with the crowd. - Kristin Swain | Sun

Thanks to Sean Murphy, the 20th Annual Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade was arguably the best one yet.

The luck of the Irish descended on Holmes Beach March 18 in the form of a beautiful day and record crowds for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, created, sponsored and presented by local restaurateur Sean Murphy.

People came out in the emerald green finery to line Marina Drive as marching bands, bagpipers, Irish dancers and even some camels took to the streets in celebration of the holiday.

“This is just wonderful,” one Canadian visitor said, collecting strands of beads and candy for her grandchildren. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The parade kicked off with patrons lining the street as Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer led participants north to Palm Drive. He was accompanied by musicians, skateboarders, festively decorated golf carts, a few antique cars and even some pirates decked out in green for the occasion.

 

While onlookers were excited for the decorated floats, the favorite sight in the over-the-top spectacle wasn’t the sparkling leprechauns but the four camels, with one ridden by a shimmering green Irish lass in the lead. Thankfully, no one reported being the recipient of any sort of camel expectoration.

Ending the parade with an actual bang were the Anna Maria Island Privateers atop the land-bound Skullywag pirate ship, firing off black powder shots and tossing colorful beads to the crowd. The red Sarasota trolley, decorated with festive four-leaf clovers and shimmering green garlands, concluded the parade.

This is the 20th year that Beach Bistro has organized and sponsored the parade. What started out as a family event has morphed into a way to celebrate the holiday, bringing locals and visitors together to view what’s believed to be the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade south of Savannah, Ga., if not the only one.