Carbon County's tribute to the Irish ancestry and heritage will take stage tonight and Sunday, March 10, when the 16th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and related activities will be held. Highlighting the weekend will be the three-division march down Broadway in Jim Thorpe, when Margaret "Peggy Sue" O'Donnell will be recognized as the grand marshal of the parade that is likely to attract thousands of visitors like it has since 1998.
The parade will begin at 1 p.m. in upper Jim Thorpe (West Broadway), and will proceed to the courthouse complex area of town. It is once again being sponsored by the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee of Jim Thorpe and Carbon County, Inc., a spinoff of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Alec Campbell Division 1, Carbon County, and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Mollie Maguire Division 1, Carbon County.
The annual Presentation of the Sashes Awards Dinner was held last night at the Mahoning Valley Country Club, Lehighton, where O'Donnell, a charter member of the LAOH, was the guest of honor. Also recognized during the program were the aides to the grand marshal, all of whom are related to the grand marshal. They include her brothers, Francis "Dubber" and Michael O'Donnell, and her cousins, Jean and Joan O'Donnell.
The traditional Mass in honor of St. Patrick will be held at 4:30 this afternoon in Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on West Broadway in Jim Thorpe. The mass also serves as a blessing to the grand marshal, aides, past and present officers for the A.O.H and the L.A.O.H and those officers and members of the organizations who have passed away.
In preparation for the parade, Broadway will be closed to all traffic at 11:45 a.m. Sunday.
Since no parking will be available in the downtown area, parking will be provided at the Carbon County parking lot, with additional parking at Jim Thorpe Area High School, 1 Olympian Way. A shuttle service, running at every half-hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., between the high school and the county courthouse annex will be provided.
These shuttles will also stop at Ninth and North streets; and Sixth and North streets. Signs for buses will be posted. Three shuttle buses for participants will also be provided from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Motorists are advised that parking along Route 209 will not be permitted. Vehicles parked along Route 209 on the Mansion House Hill in Mahoning Township will be towed.
Additionally, the members of the AOH remind spectators to respect the parade and its participants by not interfering with the parade or any private parties along the parade route. "We have lost some participants in the past due to rude and improper behavior from spectators," said Hugh Dugan, chairman of the AOH's parade committee. "The quickest way to ruin this great parade is by spectators giving it a bad reputation. We ask that people respect all participants and that everyone join in by policing the area around you for bad behavior."
The line-up for this year's parade is as follows:
Jim Thorpe Police Department Cruiser and Mayor Michael Sofranko, Pa. State Police Mounted Unit and Vehicle; Banner of St. Patrick; Grand Marshal Peggy Sue O'Donnell; Aides to the Grand Marshal Francis O'Donnell, Michael O'Donnell, Jean O'Donnell and Joan O'Donnell; Ceol Mor Pipe and Drums; Ancient Order of Hibernians, Carbon County Chapter; Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Carbon County Chapter; Molly Maguires Truck and Chuck Thamarus Truck; California Raisins VW Beetle George McDonald; Jim Thorpe Area High School Band; Congressman Matthew Cartwright; Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek; Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias; Pa. Senator John Yudichak; Pa. State Rep. Doyle Heffley; Carbon County Commissioner Tom Gerhard; Carbon County Sheriff Dwight Nothstein; Carbon County Prothonotary Joann Behrens; Carbon County Director of veterans' Affairs Henry Derosiers; Jim Thorpe Borough Council; Greater Scranton Black Diamonds; Ancient Order of Hibernians, Lehigh County Division 1; Eclectic Circus; Panther Valley Irish-American Association.
Pocono Region Pipe and Drum Corps; Jim Thorpe Fire Department; Hawk Mountain Highlanders; Black Jack Kehoe, Division 4, Delaware County; Forks of Delaware Tin Lizzies; Lehighton Fire Department; Lehighton Ambulance; Ceol Neamh; Ancient Order of Hibernians, Northampton County; Carbon County Friends of Animals; McDonald's of Nesquehoning; Franklin Township Fire Company; Emerald Step Dancers; Nesquehoning Hose Company; Nesquehoning Ambulance; Blue Eagle Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps; Schuylkill-Carbon Marine Corps League, detachment 626; Charlie Co. 1/109th Infantry; Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Precious Metal Dance Team; Mahoning Valley Fire Company; Paddy the Irish Santa; Rotary Club of Jim Thorpe; Brian Boru Pipes and Drums; Ancient Order of Hibernians, Lycoming County; 81st Pa. Company K, Civil War Re-Enactors; Charles Getz Tractors; Penn Forest Fire Company No. 1.
Emmaus Sentinels Alumni Corps; Riverwalk Restaurant; Gaelic Sea Men; Lansford AMVETS; Mauch Chunk Rod and Gun Club; Kerry Dancers; UPS; New Columbus Fire Company; Quitapahilla Highlanders Pipe Band; No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum; Air Dynamics Heating and Air Conditioning; Celtic United Pipe and Drums; Compassionate Care Hospice; A and J Limo; Bubser Hydro; Bowmanstown Fire Department; Lochiel Emerald Society Pipes and Drums; Carbon Taxi 903 Rentals; Carbon County Animal Shelter; Tresckow Fire Company; Nae Breeks Pipes and Drums; Heisler's Milk Wagon; Yuengling Brewery Wagon; Diligence Fire Company No. 1, Summit Hill.