Thomas O’Shea is named St. Patrick’s Day Parade grand marshall.
Thomas O'Shea is named St. Patrick's Day Parade grand marshall. (Bil Bowden)

This year's grand marshal of the 31st annual York St. Patrick's Day Parade is no stranger to the Emerald Isle.

After West York resident and New Zealand native Cushla Srour entertained a crowd with her tin whistle Wednesday, the parade committee announced Thomas O'Shea as the parade leader.

Irish roots: In addition to his Irish name, the CGA Law Firm attorney has visited the country twice and has a grandfather who hails from Tralee, County Kerry. When the parade's committee presented him with the grand marshal's sash — complete with the country's colors — he said it was an honor for him.

"This was a surprise," O'Shea said. "I'm very honored to have the chance to do this."

O'Shea has lived in York County since 1988 and is a former president of both the York County Bar Association and its charitable arm, the York County Bar Foundation. He has also been involved with York Little Theatre since he came to York, serving on the board for 20 years and acting in and directing many shows.

Wearing a green tie, the Spring Garden Township resident said he has hosted St. Patrick's Day parties in the past.

"So now I get to be in the parade," he said, noting that his two grandchildren will join him in the parade car.

Parade details: The parade will step off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 15, from Market and Penn streets and proceed East on Market Street to Duke Street.

The annual celebration of Celtic heritage will feature about 100 parade entries this year, according to a news release. The parade will feature live music, Irish dance groups, floats, caricatures, children's activities and antique and decorated vehicles.

Fair interpretation, sponsored by JR's Fries, will provide sign language interpreting services for the deaf and hard of hearing at Continental Square during the parade. The volunteer-run parade draws about 10,000 people downtown each year.

More than $2,000 in prizes will be awarded to parade winners, including $400 to the Best of Parade entry.

Complete registration information is available online at www.yorksaintpatricksdayparade.org or by calling 578-0146. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Special events

The following fundraisers will benefit the York St. Patrick's Day Parade:

---There's Guinness In It!, which features food made with the Irish beer, will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 6, at Central Market. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased by Feb. 28. Tickets include a sampling of foods from 12 local restaurants, Guinness product samples and entries for door prize drawings. For more information, visit yorksaintpatricksdayparade.org or call 578-0146.

---Commemorative parade T-shirts sell out nearly every year and are now available for preorders. Shirts ordered before Feb. 12 are $13; after that, the price bumps up to $15. Order forms are available at the parade's website.

---Sunrise Soap Co. in York City will soon make soap with Guinness to raise funds for the parade.

The York Emporium is also hosting a parade-themed coloring contest. Children 12 and under are invited to color a loafing leprechaun, drawn by The York Dispatch editor John Simcoe. Artists who submit their entries before March 9 receive a free book, and two grand prize winners will receive gifts cards and a ride in this year's parade. For more information, visit the bookstore's Facebook page.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.