Carbon County's tribute to Irish ancestry and heritage will take stage tonight and Sunday, March 9, when the 17th 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 Matthew P. Stinson Jr. will be recognized as the grand marshal of the parade that is likely to attract thousands of visitors, as 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 Stinson, a member of the AOH, was the guest of honor. Also recognized during the program were the aides to the grand marshal, including LAOH members Jennifer (Skelly) Becker and Shari Lynne Beers and AOH members Edward Coll and Liam Harvey.
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 AOH and the LAOH 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 lineup for this year's parade is as follows:
Jim Thorpe Police Department Cruiser and Mayor Michael Sofranko; Banner of St. Patrick; Grand Marshal Matthew Stinson; Aides to the Grand Marshal Jennifer Becker, Shari Beers, Ed Coll and Liam Harvey; Nae Breeks Pipes and Drums; Ancient Order of Hibernians, Carbon County Chapter; Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Carbon County Chapter; Chuck Thamarus Truck; California Raisins VW Beetle; Jim Thorpe Area High School Band; Congressman Matthew Cartwright; Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek; Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias, Pa.; Sen. John Yudichak, Pa.; State Rep. Doyle Heffley; Carbon County Commissioner Tom Gerhard and wife Susie; Carbon County Prothonotary Joann Behrens; Carbon County Director of Veterans' Affairs Henry Desrosiers; Jim Thorpe Borough Council; Broome County Celtic Pipes and Drums; Panther Valley Irish-American Association with 2014 Irishman of the Year Robert "Bobby" O'Gurek; Diligence Fire Company No. 1, Summit Hill; Eclectic Circus; Schuylkill-Carbon Marine Corps League, Detachment 626; and Lehigh County Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Brian Boru Pipes and Drums, Jim Thorpe Fire Department, Galway Guild, Black Jack Kehoe, Division 4, Delaware County, Forks of Delaware Tin Lizzies, Girardville AOH, Lehighton Fire Department, Lehighton Ambulance, Lochiel Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, Knights of Columbus, Damien Council, Carbon County Friends of Animals, McDonald's of Nesquehoning, Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1, Nesquehoning Ambulance, Kerry Dancers, Masonic Lodge/Jim Thorpe, Franklin Township Fire Company, Bob Swaim: Bob, The Bike Guy, Celtic United Pipe and Drums, New Columbus Fire Company, Hawk Mountain Highlanders, Lansford AMVETS, Paddy the Irish Santa, The Troubles, Riverwalk Saloon, Emerald Isle Step Dancers and Parryville Fire Company.
Emmaus Sentinels Alumni Corps, Patchwork Players/Carbon County Labor Council, Carbon County Animal Shelter, Ceol Mor, Carbon County Shrine Club, 81st Pa. Company K, Civil War Re-enactors, A.J. Limo Coach, Quitapahilla Highlanders Pipe Band, No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum, Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Penn Forest Fire Company No. 1, Coel Neamh, WLEV, Open Gate Equestrian Team, Blue Eagle Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps and West End Fire Company.