A day for the Irish
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who sponsor the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Jim Thorpe, participate in the three-hour march Sunday.
The 17th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Jim Thorpe on Sunday seemed to have a little of everything.
There was a high school band, Celtic bands, comic groups, historical organizations, Ronald McDonald, a green-clad Irish Santa and fire trucks.
"This parade is great," said 12-year-old Luke Nicholson of New Tripoli. "It's a lot of fun."
Nicholson was wearing a green hat and sporting green beads while sitting with his parents in front of Dugan's Store.
Few will disagree with the lad.
It took over three hours to pass, although admittedly there were frequent stops so the bands could perform in front of the cameras of Blue Ridge Communications TV 13, which broadcast the parade live.
The parade had nine bagpipe bands, two Irish rock bands, two high school/alumni bands, 10 fire companies and emergency service organizations, three military groups, two Irish step groups, and 24 other groups and organizations.
The grand marshal was Matthew P. Stinson Jr., a Jim Thorpe resident and a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Alec Campbell Division I.
"It's great," said Ron Sheehan, one of the parade's organizers and a member of the Hibernians, the parade's sponsor. "It went off without a hitch."
Concerns last week about large banks of snow along the route prompted the borough to issue a no-parking rule along the entire route this year.
"People along Broadway have been very cooperative," Sheehan said. "We're looking forward to 17 more years of the parade."
One of the marching units which attained quite a bit of attention was 81st Pa. Co. K Civil War Reenactors. The 40 marchers all wore Union uniforms and carried long rifles with bayonets. About every half block they would stop and shoot the rifles, often at the pleading of the spectators. With the shooting came loud bangs, flames from the guns as well as smoke and debris.
At one point, three women ran in front of the group and when the guns were shot, they pretended they were killed. One member of the Reenactors played along with them, walking over to one and pretending he was going to drive the bayonet into her.
As much as the bands and paraders were the attraction, so was the fashion of the spectators who wore everything from green stockings and green ties to unique green hats and sunglasses.
Many people wore shorts, short dresses, and short-sleeve shirts, indicating that winter is finally banished.
Ryan Keip and Rochelle Yost, both of Barnesville, walked up and down Broadway before the parade. Keip wore a green vest, a green derby hat, and walked with a green-handled cane, while Yost was dressed all in green, including green stockings, green shorts, and a fancy green shirt.
"We come here every year but this year I decided to go all out," Yost said. "It's my birthday party. I turned the dirty 30 this year."
Many people had their pets attired in green coats, green collars, and some even wearing beads. Emily Long of Lehighton walked along the route with her Jack Russell terrier. Long and her pet both wore green.
Carbon County Prothonotary Joann M. Behrens rode in a convertible, sitting on the top of the back seat, wearing a queen's head piece green, of course.
JoAnn Klitsch, a member of Jim Thorpe Borough Council, marched in the parade representing the council.
"I love it," she remarked of the parade. "It's great for the people. It's great for the town."
Mayor Michael Sofranko agreed.
"To all the residents along the parade route, 'Thank you.' I know (parking) was a big inconvenience but it helped with the crowd," he said.
"We're happy the AOH could pull off the Carbon County parade as such. I think attendance was more than we expected, although not as much as last year," Sofranko added.
Another parade viewer was Dave Vetterlein of Shippensburg, who was visiting his brother in Lake Hauto and decided to come to the parade.
He said he was impressed with Jim Thorpe.
"I think it's really a great historical town," Vetterlein said.
Vetterlein was introduced to Jim Thorpe in the 70s when he rode his bicycle from Harrisburg to Maine and made a stop in the Carbon County seat.
"I've seen major improvements since then," he said.