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With Bing Crosby as grand marshal, St. Patrick’s Day Parade hits downtown Spokane

UPDATED: Sat., March 17, 2018

A half-dozen bassetts march together with a bassett hound rescue group in the annual St. Patrick��s Day Parade Saturday, Mar. 17, 2018 in downtown Spokane.  Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
A half-dozen bassetts march together with a bassett hound rescue group in the annual St. Patrick��s Day Parade Saturday, Mar. 17, 2018 in downtown Spokane. Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The soothing tones of St. Patrick’s Day Parade grand marshal Bing Crosby drifted past thousands of ears Saturday, from Washington Avenue to Post Street.

A life-size image of the famous late singer and Spokane native was propped up in the truck bed of a Ford F-150, its speakers blasting such Irish-themed Crosby songs as “St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

“I’ll be marching along in a big parade on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll be up to my neck in shamrocks as I march along the way,” sang Crosby. The posthumous grand marshal’s mother was a second-generation Irish-American.

“Hey, what’s more Irish than Bing?” a woman asked as the truck, which also carried Crosby’s nephew, Ed Crosby, drove down Spokane Falls Boulevard.

A few things at least, by the looks of the thousands of green-clad patrons lining the streets of downtown Spokane.

The 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade organized by the Friendly Son of St. Patrick lasted nearly two hours and traversed its usual route, starting near the Spokane Arena and ending just north of City Hall.

Marching under gray skies, more than 50 floats and hundreds of participants from various clubs and organizations promenaded for the sizable crowd, many of whom were themselves decked out in kilts, fake red beards and shamrock-colored hats.

Bagpipe players. Large inflatable Leprechauns. A leaning tower of Pisa. Local dance teams, charitable organizations, churches and a local plumbers association.

“The parade was great,” Jane Lykins said. “It’s so great to have everyone come together as a community, spend the day together in the beautiful weather.”

While children gathered candy tossed from the floats, many people, including the beer-drinking onlookers at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, ogled a contingent of “Star Wars” characters, including Darth Vader and Boba Fett, marching past.

“Not sure I see the connection with Jedi masters and Irish tradition, but they were good costumes,” Brittnay Palmer said. “There was a lot of variety.”

Perhaps the biggest hit at the parade was the spectrum of animals. A pair of painted-green horses, llamas, goats and a dozen dogs all appeared to capture the crowd’s eyes.

“This was the longest parade I have been to,” Lykins said. “And every year it gets better and better.”

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