By Emily Lynch
Grand Ledge Gazette staff writer
GRAND LEDGE—A two-day event including a parade, Irish dancers, great Irish music, an Irish stew cook off, a pub crawl and much more comes to the small city.
The Grand Ledge St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebration will be downtown March 15 and 16 said Grand Ledge Mayor, Kalmin Smith. It is the tenth annual St. Patrick’s Day festival, so it is very exciting for the city.
The St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of six festivals held in Grand Ledge each year, said Ethelen Smith, president of the Grand Ledge Area Historical Society. The other festivals include Yankee Doodle Days, Victorian Days, Memorial Day, The Color Cruise and The Island Art Fair.
“We do these events in order to bring people into the city,” said Jill Russell, executive director for the Grand Ledge Chamber of Commerce.
The event will start at the Grand Ledge Opera House on Friday March 15, said Dan O’Shea, board member of the Grand Ledge St. Patrick’s Day Parade Association. The event will showcase traditional Irish dancing, the Glen Erin Bagpipe Band and seven local musicians that will perform about two or three songs each.
It will continue with a free children’s movie at noon, O’Shea said.
The parade will start at 2 p.m., immediately following the movie. It will include the Goderich Drum and Bagpipe Band and the Glen Erin Bagpipe Band, as well as the Queen of the Court float, music and much more.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Association board members will elect the Queen of the Court this Sunday. Grand Ledge students seventh grade and up will each write a 500-word essay about what St. Patrick’s Day means to them. The top rated will be elected as Queen.
“We try to make it different,” said O’Shea. “It’s a short parade, but it has actual floats and music for the most part.”
There are a few local businesses that do floats, said O’Shea. Some of the schools, families and the founders produce floats as well. There is a contest for the best float, and the St. Patrick’s Day Association expects about eight legitimate floats, as well as a few smaller ones.
The event will continue with a St. Patrick’s Day parade dinner at 6 p.m. at the Opera House, O’Shea said. The mid-Michigan Irish Dance Company will perform, as well as the Glen Irish Ontario pipe band. At 5:30 p.m., there will be a dinner with another group of pipers and an Irish sing a long.
There will also be a stew cook-off at the American Legion in Grand Ledge, O’Shea said. Money will be given to whoever has the best stew.
The event will end with a pub-crawl for those old enough.
“We just try to get people into the city.” Said Russell. “That’s why [these] events are so important.”
All funds leftover will be donated to several charities, said O’Shea.
He expects about 15-20,000 people, depending on the weather. The Opera House is at capacity Friday night and Saturday afternoon and night, so O’Shea is hopeful for a large crowd.