History

HISTORY OF THE TWENTYFIRST ANNUAL ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE

1996:  A small group walked down Tryon Street with a bagpiper.

1997:  Linda Dyer Hart, along with the Knights of Columbus, revived the Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade & she started the First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival, which was held at Independence Park in the Elizabeth neighborhood. The festival featured music, crafts & rugby exhibitions. Pat Terrell, a former football player at Notre Dame and a Carolina Panthers player was the first Grand Marshal.

1998:  The Parade moved to Uptown Charlotte and marched down Tryon Street. The Ancient Order of Hibernians became involved with the Knights of Columbus and with Dyer Hart Productions in organizing the Parade. Bob Knowles, the late newscaster at WBT-TV served as Grand Marshal

1999:  The St. Patrick’s Day Festival was held on Tryon Street between 5th and 6th Street. Rob Walsh who was President of the Center City Partners served grand Marshal.

2000:  The St.Patrick’s Day Parade was led by Grand Marshal Mike Collins of WFAE-FM. The festival moved to the First Union (now Wachovia) Atrium & Plaza.

2001:  Grand Marshal Jerry Healy, principal of Holy Trinity Middle School, led the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year.

2002: Deputy Chief David Duffy of the Charlotte Fire Department was the Grand Marshal of the parade and the festival was held at the Wachovia Atrium & Plaza. The Fire Department flew a huge American flag to commemorate those lost in 9/11 as they led the parade down Tryon Street.

2003:  Over 10,000 spectators watched the parade. The Grand Marshal of the parade was Mayor Pat McCrory of the City of Charlotte. Black 47, a popular Irish rock group, performed as headliners.

2004: Over 20,000 spectators watched the parade. The Grand Marshal of the parade was Ray Farris. The Dublin City Ramblers, a popular Irish group, performed as headliners.

2005:  Over 25,000 spectators watched the parade. The Grand Marshal of the parade was Jim Babb.

2006:  Over 40,000 spectators watched the parade. The Grand Marshal of the parade was Moira Quinn. The Red Herring Irish Band, and Irongrass, a popular local group, performed as headliners.The festival named officially changed to the Charlotte Goes Green Festival.

2007:  While it was a little chilly, we still had over 40,000 spectators turn out to watch the biggest parade yet with over 90 entries. Our Grand Marshall, the Dublin American Bus Connection came over from Dublin with over 30 members to lead the parade through Uptown Charlotte. The Charlotte Goes Green Festival had record crowds that enjoyed the rest of the day with live music and Irish dancers, great Irish/Celtic vendors, good food & drink and plenty to do for the kids.

2008:  We had another huge turnout, despite threatening weather, that saw over 100 entries in the parade, led by our Grand Marshal, WBTV’s Maureen O’Boyle. We even stepped off a little earlier to accommodate the ACC Tournament, which was in town that weekend. The Charlotte Goes Green Festival moved to a new location on Tryon St. & had standing room only crowds for the afternoon validating our decision to move it to a more open space. The music, dancers and many vendors added to the afternoon’s fun.

2009: We had a wild year for the parade & festival. Due to extreme weather, the parade & festival were moved back one week for the first time ever. Fortunately, the weather was excellent for the make up date and we had our largest crowds ever. Mayor Pat McCrory was our Grand Marshal and over 50,000 spectators turned out to watch the parade. The Charlotte Goes Green Festival once again had capacity crowds as we featured several new Irish/Celtic vendors, great music, the wonderful Irish dancers and much more.

2010:  Over 100 parade units marched down Tryon St. where we had our largest group of spectators to date along with many new groups marching with us for the first year. Our Grand Marshal was Charlotte – Mecklenburg School Superintendant, Dr. Peter Gorman. We were able to expand the footprint of the festival with the opening of the South Tryon cultural zone and enlarged the Celtic Kid’s Zone. ABC News selected the parade & festival as one of the Best 17 places in the U.S. to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, which was a huge honor.

2011:  With the best weather in years, we had record crowds watch the parade with estimates of 60,000+ spectators. Our Grand Marshal was the Irish Consul General, the Honorable Paul Gleeson. The Clydesdales marched with us for the first time this year and the crowd loved them. The Charlotte Goes Green Festival also had record crowds as attendees took advantage of a beautiful day to be outside. With over 60 vendors, a large Celtic Kids Zone and the live entertainment stage, there was plenty to do all afternoon.

2012:  St. Patrick’s Day fell on Saturday this year and that, combined with beautiful weather gave us a record setting day. Crowd estimates for the parade were 80,000+. Our Grand Marshal was Charlotte Bobcats CFO, Bill Duffy. The festival also enjoyed record crowds as they enjoyed live Irish music on stage, relaxed on the plaza and had a great day of fellowship & family fun.

2013:  Tryon St. was packed from side to side even as the parade route was extended this year to allow more room for spectators. We had 130 marching units, our largest ever. And we were very proud to have North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory as our Grand Marshal. The festival was packed and we made a couple very happy when we gave away a free trip to Ireland for a week, courtesy of US Airways & Tourism Ireland.

2014: The parade had over 120 units and the weather was beautiful, so we had capacity crowds again. Our Grand Marshal was Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. We expanded the footprint of the Charlotte Goes Green Festival and had capacity crowds as we gave away another trip to 7 day trip to Ireland to a lucky festival attendee.

2015: We started the day with a bit of “Irish weather”, but about an hour into the parade, the sun came out and we had a great parade. Tens of thousands of parade spectators braved the morning weather and were rewarded with a lovely afternoon and a great party. Our Grand Marshal was Dr. John Young, Honorary Consul of Ireland for N.C..

2016: We had 134 marching units join us on a perfect weather day. The highlight of the parade was our most distinguished Grand Marshal, Ambassador Anne Anderson of Ireland on the 100th Anniversary of Irish independence.

2017: History is yet to be made – stay tuned!  The festival will be celebrating it’s 21st Anniversary. Come on down for the parade & stay for the festival! It’s where everyone is Irish for the day.