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Irish eyes smiling on Spokane again

Although a diverse crowd attended Spokane’s 2011 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, everyone there was Irish in spirit.

Hundreds of people marched in and watched the annual parade. Proceeds from entry fees for the parade, organized by Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, are donated to local charities.

The spectacle began at noon on Boone Avenue and ended on Lincoln Street after traveling through downtown on Main Avenue.

The sound of bagpipes filled the air as marchers, predominantly decked out in green, followed a path marked by shamrocks painted on the pavement, handing out candy, green beaded necklaces and other goodies to spectators along the route.

For some, the parade was merely an excuse for a good time. For others, like Araya McGhee, 15, it was a chance to stand out. Her favorite part about marching: “Getting the attention.”

But with such an eclectic group showing their full-fledged Irish spirit in the parade, McGhee’s time to shine would be fleeting.

The long procession featured leprechauns, llamas, motorcycle clubs, classic cars, canoes, a couple dozen pugs, two people dressed as pandas and one green horse. There were cement trucks, fire trucks, a party bus and a man riding atop a toilet. People of all walks of life were present – golfers, soldiers, iron workers, police officers and even recovering addicts.

The parade was open to all, whether Irish by birthright or by choice.

“Everybody gets to be Irish for a day,” said Sue Eller, who marched in the parade with Clan Cian, a group that works to preserve Irish traditions. “Everybody’s welcome.”

Eller said that’s what makes the parade so much fun.

“And that’s what being Irish is all about,” she said. “Having fun.”


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