st. patrick's day parade history
'The Wearin' of the Green Parade' was born due to the "luck of the Irish". It was certainly meant to be and has stood the test of time. In 1982, Rochelle McCann, then assistant to Mayor Pat Screen, contacted Pat Shingleton at WBRZ-TV to cover the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Time Wednesday, March 17, 1982 at 6pm The annual parade was held in the downtown Third Street area. By 1982, the parade was a skeleton of its former self with a several officials, a single band, and a few clowns. In the morning, green-clad Joe Keogh would continue a tradition started by his father Vincent Keogh of Dublin by raising the Irish flag at 7:30 am (see photo with then mayor Pat Screen).
This isn't how always how the Irish had celebrated the day in Baton Rouge. The parade has had two outstanding lives. Once in the 1960's and again it was reborn in the 1980's by Pat Shingleton. Years before, when the Irish Club of Baton Rouge had been a thriving organization shamrocks would be shipped in fresh every year for the celebration. A green stripe would be painted down the center of the street and Irish lassies would join the festivities as guests of Baton Rougeans for the event. Those days ended and the parade dried up.
The Baton Rouge Irish Club was reborn in 1986 when Pat Shingleton reorganized the club and the Wearin' of the Green Parade.
in the 1960's...
The Sons of Erin, organized in 1906, was the popular Irish group for males of Irish descent. The traditions of the Sons of Erin were to dine each year on March 17 at the Capital House Hotel (earlier the Heidelberg Hotel) in downtown Baton Rouge, fly the flag of Ireland over the City and have members parade down Third Street prior to dinner.
It was a walking parade for the most part and there were, at times, only a handful of members that actually formed the parade in some years. Names like Bogan, Keogh, Brennan, Murphy, Burden, Tullis, McInnis, McCurnin, McAndrew, Hynes show prominently though old clippings and Club papers. The day traditionally started out with a mass at St. Agnes church. The annual stag party featured "sitting and sipping" while listening to the "finest entertainment"...a grand tenor with a lilt to his voice. Across town at Mike and Tony's, the marching Irish crowned thier afternoon parade with a feast. Records end in 1967.
In 1951, the wives, of the members of the Sons of Erin expressed their displeasure at being excluded from the annual St. Patrick's Day activities. As a result of this exclusion, the Irish Club of Baton Rouge was begun in 1951.1 Everybody Wearing the Green Ain't Irish and Other Misconceptions about the Baton Rouge "St. Patrick's Day Parade: the Wearin of the Green" by " Patricia A. McElroy
Toward the end of the 1970's, interest in the parade portion of the St. Patrick Day festivities declined. By 1980, they had all but stopped.
the wearin' of the green...
Louisiana is known for Mardi Gras with its elaborate floats and costumes. Other festivals are held throughout the year and are a part of the culture of the region. Some years Mardi Gras will fall in the month of March. Pat's fond childhood memories of St. Patrick's Day Parades in Pittsburgh, PA along with the desire to honor his patron saint, lead him to organize the "Wearin' of the Green Parade". With the support of then mayor-president Pat Screen, Pat and a handful of organizers began the parade in 1986. The parade started at the City Park Golf Course on Perkins Road and ended at ZeeZee Gardens Pub. The parade caught on rather quickly. The old route posed line-up problems since the floats had to sit across the railroad tracks and the timing posed problems since trains were scheduled to run. The early Parade/Irish Club meetings were fun and festive with Pat Shingleton leading most of them. There would be jokes and camaraderie and imbibing for all. In the first few years, Pat and Chuck Perrodin tried hard to make a go of the Irish Club of Baton Rouge. However, it seemed year after year that the club members were much more interested in the parade rather than the club itself.
After a few years, Grey Hammett joined the team and added his organizational skills to the parade plus moved the start of it to the corner of Acadian Thruway and Hundred Oaks thus lengthening the route by several miles. A handful of Baton Rouge Irish Club members, headed by Don Weinman, manned the check-in point for many years. However, behind the scenes work had been handled by Mabyn's Advertising Agency staff doing whatever legwork was needed throughout the years. When it was realized that the parade needed to be handled in a more professional manner, The Parade Group, llc was formed. Managerially, the parade is organized, coordinated and run by Pat Shingleton, Grey Hammett and Mabyn Shingleton.
Spirited 'after-parade parties' are held all over the Greater Baton Rouge area. There are many great pubs and restaurants in the area plus hotels to stay in to enjoy the food, camradarie and festivities so we hope to see you at the next parade!
This site will continue to search out good Irish organizations and activities. We are always interested in your input and ideas.
2010 and beyond
Every year has been an "animal unto itself." Those of us who have participated in the parade for many years have ridden on days after it snowed, days we were sunburned in our shorts, days we saw umbrellas turned upside down to catch beads as the crowds were drenched. Our 25th anniversary was in 2010.