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St. Paddy's parade set for Saturday in York

Christopher Dornblaser
717-505-5436/@YDDornblaser

Even though St. Patrick's Day isn't for a week, Yorkers will have to get out the Irish sweaters a little bit earlier this year. On Saturday, thousands are expected to come out and see the 33rd Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in York City.

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The parade will start at 1 p.m. at Market and Penn streets and will continue east to just past the Yorktowne Hotel on Duke Street. The parade is expected to last about an hour and a half.

The event: Mary Yeaple, a  volunteer organizer for the event for the past 17 years, encouraged people to come out and see the parade.

York St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee member Mary Yeaple sorts through parade decorations in her office at CoWork 155 in York City Wednesday, March 9, 2016. The parade is Saturday at 1 p.m. Bill Kalina photo

"It's a nice little parade," she said. “There’s really not a bad place to watch the parade all along the route.”

Yeaple said typically the parade brings out about 10,000 people.

In addition to the parade, other activities and things to see leading up to parade time, such as Irish dancing and caricature drawings, will be happening starting as early as 9 a.m.

"If you'd like to make a day of it, come downtown early," she said.

Central Market will be operating on extended hours in celebration of the event, and Yeaple said the market will be open until at least 3 p.m. In the market, businesses such as All About Brownies, Bair's Chicken, Conrad's Deli, Crazy Corkey Kettle Corn, JR's Fries, Myer's Pastries and Take Five Expresso Bar will be offering different St. Patrick's Day-themed items in celebration of the day.

Additional things to see will be hosted at the York County Heritage Trust's Historical Society Museum, Martin Library, Continental Square, Cherry Lane, The York Emporium and Penn Market.

York's St. Patrick's Day features drums and bagpipes.

Grand Marshal: This year's Grand Marshal of the parade will be Ward Walsh, of Spring Garden Township. Walsh and his family have been marching in the parade for more than 30 years.

He started his first year of marching with his family — decked out in their Irish sweaters — in the third year of the parade.  Over the years, their march has gotten bigger, with the family marching alongside a float featuring a miniaturized Irish cottage.

Walsh, who says he is "100 percent Irish," was born and raised in York County. He says he has seen the parade grow over the years —  the first year he participated, roughly 500 people were in attendance.

“I think it’s a great way to celebrate our heritage,” he said.

York St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee member Mary Yeaple said Irish tokens are available along the parade route for donations. Bill Kalina photo

This year Walsh and his family will be leading the parade with their float and will be handing out green flowers to onlookers. Some of his family members will be traveling from across the country to participate in the parade. Two of his international business partners from Italy will also be making the trek to York to be "Irish for a day" alongside Walsh, he said.

“I think we’ll end up close to 100 people marching with us. It’s going to be fun,” he said.

Warmer celebration: It looks like that warm weather that York County has enjoyed this week could stick around until Saturday for the parade.

“I know people like to wear their Irish sweaters; I wouldn’t complain if they wore their T-shirts,” Yeaple said.

As of Wedesday, AccuWeather was forecasting a high of 61 for Saturday. Yeaple said when the weather is really cold, the people on the parade route tend to move a bit quicker, but when it's warmer they tend to slow down.

"When the weather's nice, people will walk down the street a little longer," she said.

York St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee member Mary Yeaple lays out banners to flatten them at CoWork 155 in York City Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Bill Kalina photo

Yeaple's holding onto hope that a little bit of luck of the Irish can keep the weather nice for the parade.

"We're ready for spring, we're tired of cold, we're tired of being inside," she said. "I'm hoping the luck of the Irish is with us on Saturday."

For those who can't attend the parade, it will be broadcast on White Rose Television and on their website on Saturday.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com.