Irish dancers, pipe bands and melodies will fill Salt Lake City Saturday as the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade winds its way through downtown.
Beginning at 10 a.m. the parade participants will travel through the Gateway Center reflecting this year’s theme titled St. Patrick, Bless the American worker.
Greg Neville has organized the parade for 13 years and, as co-chairperson, said the preparations have become routine.
“It’s almost second nature when you have been doing it as long as we have,” Neville said.
Joe Brown, another co-chairperson, has worked with Neville for years to keep the tradition alive. He participated in the parade years ago and his involvement in organizing the event has increased since then.
“It’s for anyone with ties back to Europe who want to remember their heritage,” Brown said. “It’s about keeping the Irish tradition alive.”
He said six or seven people with strong Irish ties began the parade 34 years ago and it has grown into a great event for the community.
Every year, thousands of spectators watch hundreds of parade participants march through downtown Salt Lake.
“Everyone wants to be Irish … at least on St. Patrick’s day,” Neville said.
When the weather cooperates the parade draws up to 10,000 spectators, Neville said.
John Welsh, this year’s entry coordinator, said about 230 entries have signed up to participate in the parade. Participants include family, commercial, novelty and musical entries.
“One entry is rumored to have 1,000 people in it,” Welsh said.
He said the entries attempt to be in accordance with the theme of the parade.
“All entries try to meet the requirements of the theme of the parade,” Welsh said. “You never know until the day of the parade how they will do that.”
Every year the parade committee incorporates a different theme into the parade and the members always looks for new ideas.
“As a committee we decided that it would be a good idea to honor the American worker,” Neville said. “The economy has not been the greatest.”
He said spectators look forward to entries that twist the theme and include a bit of satire. People enjoy the parade because it is fun and colorful.
“We welcome anyone who is willing to look at the theme and celebrate,” Neville said.