Vero Beach celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with Saturday parade

VERO BEACH – The sky was blue and the temperature was perfect as the second annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, sponsored by the Vero Beach Elks, kicked off Saturday afternoon.

Along with the traditional pipers and drummers, there were plenty of politicians, including members of the Vero Beach City Council. County Commissioner Bob Solari was the Grand Marshal of the parade.

Desire was the only requirement for entry into the parade. The pipes and drums were followed by the Vero Beach Equestrian Foundation, whose members rode horses that looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz. It is hard to say if it was too much Guinness from Thursday’s celebration, or the festivities honoring the anniversary of Mr. Smokes taking place a few blocks away, but a white horse with green polka dots trotted by, to the delight of the giddy crowd.

This year’s parade also featured the Palm Beach Pipe and Drum Corp, the Melbourne Pipers Band, the Brevard Police and Fire Pipe and Drum Corp, the Florida Brass Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Masters Academy Fife and Drum Corp. Also participating were more than thirty assorted groups including antique cars, clowns, horses, motorcycle riders, leprechauns, floats, and civic organizations.

In addition to the vintage cars, there were late model convertibles, in which passengers sang along to Irish tunes blaring from cd players. Rhett Palmer was driving a yellow vintage car and had his own Irish entourage of band and singers accompanying him along the 14th Avenue parade route. Several motorcyclists added to the noise level and the hilarity.

The mood was bouyant and festive and the pace was leisurely, enabling the green garbed revelers lining 14th Avenue, burnishing noisemakers and beads, to carry on conversations with the passengers in the cars driving by and cheering on the marchers in the warmth of the tropical sun.

“Aw, look at the kids,” exclaimed a grandmotherly spectator.

Parades and children are an unbeatable combination, and this one was no exception. It wouldn’t be a Vero Beach parade without children from the Boys and Girls Club throwing candy, as pint sized twirlers from Osceola Magnet School, brows furrowed in concentration, treated the crowd to their particular brand of baton magic.

The Southern Justice Motorcycle Club, despite its wild at heart sounding name, showed up with its members performing figure eights and adding an element of controlled raucousness.

The parade, which began at the Vero Beach High School Football Field, and proceeded along 14th Avenue, and lasted about 45 minutes. An after parade celebration was held at the Elks Lodge on 26th Street.

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