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Spokane goes green for St. Patrick’s Day parade

The streets of downtown Spokane were lined with green Saturday for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade: hats, beads, shirts, hair – even the occasional kilt.

The annual parade put on by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick is a family tradition for many. Kids come with their bags ready for candy while adults celebrate all things Irish, including perhaps a stop for some green beer.

Anthony Matthews, who used to come to the parade every year as a child with his parents, was back this year with his own family for his first parade since returning from 11 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, including two tours in Iraq. There’s a bit of Irish in his family tree and his wife and three of his four children boast red hair, he said.

On Saturday, however, Matthews colored his full beard green to get into the spirit. “My son colored his hair,” he said. “This is a big parade we always look forward to every year.”

The celebration included the usual cement trucks and firetrucks along with the Haran Irish Dancers and a couple of bagpipe groups. Plenty of dogs trotted through the parade route, joined by horses dyed green and alpacas wearing green blankets.

Coming to the parade may be a new tradition for Robin Roughton, who traveled from Orofino, Idaho, to attend the parade for the first time. She and her group were decked out in green clothing, beads, hats and other accessories to celebrate their Irish heritage. Their plans for the day included a stop at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille. “We’re doing the whole thing,” she said. “We’re planning to hit everything Irish.”

Dave Stark is half Irish and half Scottish. He celebrated his Irish half with green beads and a shirt and his Scottish half with a green plaid kilt. Stark said he couldn’t find anything like the Spokane parade when he moved away for several years. He was happy to be back this year with his wife, Monique, and 6-year-old son Peyton, who sported orange and white suspenders over a green shirt.

“I just love the Irish culture,” Stark said of the parade. “It’s kid-friendly. The kids can have all the candy they can handle.”