It was a cold, dreary day on Saturday, but Irish eyes were smiling in Columbus Grove.
The eighth annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was sponsored by the Columbus Grove Chamber of Commerece, was held in weather that was fitting for Ireland. That didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the community, as the largest parade ever marched through the streets of the village, and crowds lined the route to watch.
One of the parade’s organizers, Steve Wynn, who was decked out in an Irish National plaid kilt, said the idea for the parade began when four gentlemen decided they would walk through the streets of the village to commemorate the holiday. It just so happened that the Lima News was in town to cover the boys’ basketball teams’ return from state competition. A photo of the men landed of the front page of the publication; the parade grew by leaps and bounds thereafter.
“Today’s parade was a mile and a half,” related Wynn, whose great grandparents were born in Ireland.
The goal of the parade has also evolved. In addition to having a good time, each participant and spectator was asked to bring a canned good, non-perishable food item or a personal hygiene item, which were collected and donated to the Lord’s Pantry.
This year’s parade honored four first responders from Columbus Grove who went above and beyond the call of duty during the June 29 storm.
Dean Herron, who works for AEP, worked 16-hour days for 12 days after the storm, to ensure power was restored to the village. Fire Chief Bob Brubaker organized his troops to help secure the village, yet remain at the ready for EMS and fire calls. Police Chief Nick Gilgenbach and his officers kept the village safe and secure from looters. Village Administrator Jeff Vance coordinated efforts to ensure the safety of its citizens.
Columbus Grove Elementary principal Jim Kincaid was the parade’s Grand Marshall. Kincaid will be retiring at the end of the school year, after serving the community for 24 years.
Camryn Escamilla and James Rosengarten were chosen as Miss Shamrock and Mr. Shamrock. They got to ride in style through the parade in convertible cars. It was an added bonus for James, who was also celebrating his eighth birthday on Saturday.
Steve Fitzgerald and Randall Basinger served as judges for the parade. Winners, who were awarded medals, included: Lyle McKanna, Levi Kiene, Grove Skateland, Columbus Grove band, the Big Kahuna, Columbus Grove Chamber of Commerce, and Sugar Creek Athletic Association.
Miss Shamrock reigns at St. Patrick's Day parade