Little did St. Patrick of Ireland know that when he died on the 17th of March in 461 A.D., that his death would be celebrated for years to come all over the world. The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York City in 1762, and more than 200 years later, the tradition had made its way all over the United States, even to the streets of Spokane.
The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (FSOSP) are sponsoring the 23rd Annual St. Patrick's Day parade this Saturday starting at noon. The parade will meander through downtown as the third largest gathering of the year in Spokane.
"It could be considered ironic that celebrating a saint is so raucous," says Kenyon Fields, a drummer for the Angus Scott Bagpipe Band.
However, Parade Chairwoman Carol MacDonald reminds people that, "this is a family involvement-type parade." This is evident by the participation of cartoon characters like Dexter and Dee Dee, along with the Principals on Parade. For this event, students write letters to the parade committee explaining why their principal is the best. The winning principal and student get a computer for their school.
"That's how we get youth involved," says MacDonald. "We add education."
Not to worry, though, there should be a float to spark everyone's interest. Some of the nearly 300 entries will include drill teams, the Red Hot Mamas, Seattle Seahawks kicker Ryan Lindell, floats designed by local companies and, of course, marching bands like the Washington Air National Guard Band and Color Guard.
"Any money we don't use for the actual cost of the parade goes to local charities," says MacDonald. Donations this year will go to the YMCA, Andrew Rypien Field and the Spokane Law Enforcement Memorial. The FSOSP also honors members of the community for their efforts throughout the year by naming them as dignitaries.
"We try to pick someone who has done a lot for the community or our organization," says MacDonald. "It doesn't have to be someone who's 100 percent Irish." The public can enjoy coffee with the various dignitaries at the Ram on Saturday from 10-11 am. Among those honored is Garco Construction for Irish Business of the Year.
"We built House of Charity and St. Margaret's Hall," says Ralph Fishburn, rental manager for Garco. This is this kind of commitment to the community the FSOSP wants to recognize.
Garco has been participating in the parade since the first year it was held. "In the old days, they talked about pushing wheelbarrows to be in it," says Fishburn. "This year, we're hoping to change it a bit. We're going to combine stuff from previous years." The float will have a bridge with Dulaman, an Irish band from Cheney, playing on top of it.
Dulaman won't be the only band toting around bagpipes, however. The Angus Scott Bagpipe Band will be the second musical unit in the parade with 16 pipers and 12 drummers.
"Bagpipe bands only formed from the mid-1800s," says Fields. "It became a cultural attachment even though it's a recent acquisition. It became part of their national identity."
The Angus Scott Band will be fully adorned in small kilts, the traditional attire of bagpipers.
"The small kilt is an outgrowth of the late-1700s," says Fields. "What it originally was, was nine yards of fabric. It's like a toga." Fields explains that kilts all used to be a mustard yellow color, but eventually the different colors and plaids came to represent different families.
"People have an intense emotional reaction to bagpipes," says Fields. "On St. Patrick's Day, we seem to see somebody in tears. It's an emotional connection."
The Angus Scott Band will perform not only in the parade, but also at different venues around town including O'Doherty's.
"We do about a 20-minute performance. It's still a novelty at 20 minutes," says Fields.
The bagpipers will be stopping by O'Doherty's once on Friday night and two times on Saturday. The playing of bagpipes is not an unusual occurrence at the Irish pub, however.
"It's the day of the year when our format and identity collide with the society," says co-owner Tim O'Doherty. "In the entertainment segment, we do the Irish thing. We play Celtic music. We serve Irish food. We serve the same corned beef and stew we always do."
The two unique activities patrons can look forward to are the "sausage toss" and the singing of the Gilligan's Island theme song. The "sausage toss" is the throwing of a three-foot, plaid-covered stone. The "sausage" must flip once in the air and land in a pot.
"Every year, the Scottish and the Irish have a contest to see who keeps it from the English," says O'Doherty. "I've been doing it for 19 years." So far, he's never lost the toss, and he remains confident he never will.
The festivities can be enjoyed starting at 8 am at the downtown location and in the valley at the new O'Doherty's on Sprague.
& & & lt;i & The parade is on Saturday, March 17, beginning at noon at the Washington Street underpass and ending at City Hall. Floats may be seen at the staging area on Saturday in the Spokane Arena parking lot starting at 7:30 am. Call: 880-2785. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
St. Patrick's Day Events
2001: A Brass Odyssey, The Met, 901 W. Sprague. The Spokane British Brass Band is offering this concert featuring Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," "Pizzicato Polka" and "Valdres March," along with Percy Grainger's "Irish Tune from County Derry" on March 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets: $10; $8, seniors/students; $9, KPBX members. Call: 325-SEAT.
A Trombone Extravaganza, The Met, 901 W. Sprague. The Spokane Jazz Orchestra presents this concert in tribute to Tommy Dorsey on March 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $19.50; $17.50, seniors/students/military. Call: 325-SEAT.
Arvid Lundin, Huckleberry's, 926 S. Monroe. The fiddle player, along with Jadis and Irish step dancer Jane Reamer, will present an evening of Irish music and dance on March 17 from 7-9 p.m. Donations requested. Call: 624-1349.
Radio Days, the Opera House, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. The Spokane Symphony presents the quintet Five By Design, singing big band music from the 1940s, on March 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $16-$35. Call: 325-SEAT.
Spokane Symphony Symfunnies Concert, the Opera House, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. The Symphony will salute St. Patrick's Day in this concert for the whole family, with traditional Irish favorites, sing-alongs and guest fiddlers and dancers, on March 18 at 4 p.m. Tickets: $9; $6, juniors. Call: 325-SEAT.
The Blue Stone, Gardenia Center, 400 Church St., Sandpoint, Idaho. The adaptation by Richard Kennedy, featuring Carol Jean Rose narrating the fast-paced Irish story, will be on March 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets: $10. Call: (208) 263-2093.
Haran Dancers Millennial Irish Dance Celebration, The Met, 901 W. Sprague. The award-winning troupe will perform slip jigs danced in soft shoe, figure and group choreography, Irish folk tales played out in song and dance and fast-paced hardshoe dancing, accompanied by The Celtic Nots, playing an assortment of instruments and songs on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15; $12, advance; $9, for children 10 and younger. Call: 624-7573.
St. Patrick's Day Dance, Woman's Club, 1428 W. Ninth. Grab a green goodie to share and come to the Spokane Folklore Society's Irish dance, with live music by River City Ramblers, on March 17 from 8-11 p.m. Cost: $8; $6, SFS members. Call: 747-2640.
Lilac City Cloggers, Children's Museum, 110 N. Post. Learn what clogging is all about on March 17 from 12:30-1 p.m. Cost: $3.75. Call: 624-KIDS.
St. Patrick's Day Story Time, Barnes & amp; Noble, 4750 N. Division. Enjoy Irish folklore and legends on March 17 at 11 a.m. Free. Call: 482-4235.
Rogue Readers, Auntie's, 402 W. Main. The group will perform dramatic readings, poetry and songs on March 16 at 7 p.m. Free. Call: 838-0206.
St. Pat's Dinner, Southside Senior Activity Center, 2727 S. Mt. Vernon. Dinner includes corned beef and cabbage on March 16 at 5:30 p.m. Actress Kathie Doyle-Lipe will entertain. Cost: $7.50. Must preregister. Call: 535-0803.
St. Patrick's Day Dance, Sinto Senior Center, 1124 W. Sinto. Don your Irish green and jig to the sounds of the Glenn Allan Trio on March 17 from 7:30-10 p.m. Cost: $2.50. Call: 327-2861.
St. Patrick's Day Dinner, Sinto Senior Center, 1124 W. Sinto. Enjoy a corned beef and cabbage dinner, entertainment and door prizes, followed by bingo on March 17 at noon. Cost: $4.50. Must preregister. Call: 327-2861.
St. Patrick's Day Luncheon, 827 W. Cleveland. The traditional corned beef and cabbage with a tossed green salad, beer biscuits and key lime pie will be the fare on March 16 from noon-1:30 p.m. Cost: $6.50. Must preregister. Call: 327-1584.
St. Patrick's Day Parade, downtown Spokane. The 23rd annual parade, featuring Celtic bagpipes and Irish jigs, begins at noon on March 17, starting at the Washington Street underpass and finishing at City Hall. Free. Call: 325-3220.
St. Patrick's Day Dinner and Raffle, Evergreen Club, 2102 E. Sprague. The club is offering a corned beef and cabbage dinner, complete with rolls, potatoes, nonalcoholic beverages and green dessert on March 17 from 4-7 p.m. Bagpipe music will be performed. Tickets: $6; $4, children; free, kids 5 and younger. Raffle tickets: $5, for six or $1 each. Call: 458-7454.