Erin go bragh! 25th Annual St. Patrick’s parade one for the record books

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Matt Casey, owner of Casey Magee’s Irish Pub and Music Hall in Nashua, representing during Manchester’s 2022 St. Patrick’s Parade. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – Sunday’s 25th annual St. Patrick’s Parade was a long time coming. But after a two-year absence, organizers delivered one for the record books. With more than 150 listed participants in the line-up, the thousands who descended on the city for the parade and the preceding 2-mile Shamrock Shuffle race by Millennium Running were treated to a spectacle that included marching bands, pipes and drums, tumblers, dancers, twirlers, fire engines, clowns, pageant queens and tiny cars and trucks.

Mike Ciampa made the trek from Seabrook to be part of the celebration, a nod to his own Irish heritage.



“I’m Irish, Scottish and Italian, actually,” he said, although his outfit was top-to-toe 100 percent parade ready. “The hat is because St. Patrick was a bishop,” he said, adjusting his green-and-gold cap and lifting his hand as if in blessing mode. “This is my first time in Manchester since COVID,” Ciampa said. He was going to stick around for some post-parade festivities at one of the many downtown pubs and eateries already overflowing with revelers.

Families arrived early to claim a prime viewing spot, including Penny Demos of Hampton, her daughters, Kathryn King of Bedford and Sarah Lescault of Manchester, and their families.

“It was fantastic. The parade was the best-ever. And the tribute to the Ukraine was important and beautiful,” said Brandon King, Demos’ son-in-law.

His wife agreed with that assessment, saying that the family knows its parades – they’ve been attending Manchester’s annual event for years, and arrive 30-45 minutes early to stake their claim.

“This is our spot. We meet here every year,” said Kathryn, standing in front of the Citizens Bank across from Pappy’s Pizza. Her grandson, Reilly King, was in animated over-drive recalling all his favorite moments from the parade.

“After the Veterans Day Parade he went home and had his own parade, walking up and down the street for hours with his pop-gun,” said Demos, flashing a grandmotherly smile full of pride.


From left, Penny Demos, Kathryn King, Sara Lescault and Brandon King, with their kids Reilly King, Theodore Lescault and Lilly King. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Reilly King and Lilly Jo King of Bedford. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Among those who had come to perform in the parade were Alexandra Albano-Fontaine, 16, a member of Gym Dandies Children’s Circus of Scarborough, Maine. She was one of several unicycle riders who wowed the crowd. As they headed back to their car after the parade they were stopped by David Dye, who had a question.

Alexandra Albano-Fontaine demonstrates how she mounts her 5-foot- unicycle for the Dye Family, at left, with an assist from her parents, Ann Albana and Jim Fontaine. Photo/Carol Robidoux

 

 


“We were wondering how you got up on the unicycle,” he said. Alexandra, with an assist from her parents, demonstrated the multi-step process that allows riders to mount a five-foot unicycle, which involves some hand-holding, stomach balancing and moxie.

Dye and his family, of Stratham, said they particularly enjoyed the marching bands and Shriner’s small cars. They were handing out “good news” leaflets – including one about dog trivia and training to those who had dogs in tow (there were many) as a way of spreading God’s love.

The Dye family, from left, David, Chloe, Kendra and Emily, with Lilly striking a pose in the front. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Lou Daniels, who works for the city Highway Department, was parked at Bridge Street as the crowds cleared, waiting for the high sign to retrieve all the barrels he’d set in place to block access to Elm Street so that the parade could proceed safely.

The weather was on the chilly side and there were a few intermittent raindrops, but overall, parade day was a perfect celebration for a city that has been missing the sense of community that comes from such events.

Lou Daniels, part of Manchester’s Highway Crew, getting ready to remove the barrels and markers that blocked off city streets for the parade. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Stephanie McLaughlin was the parade’s Grand Marshal – a gratifying role that was delayed due to COVID which preempted her scheduled reign. But the return to normalcy was a welcome one for attendees and participants alike.

There were marchers whose tribute to Ukraine was solemn and timely featuring a large contingency of supporters working together to display a large horizontal banner in the colors of the Ukrainian flag in honor of those who have been killed and displaced by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

St. Patrick’s Parade Grand Marshal Stephanie McLaughlin and husband, Patrick Parkinson. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Steve Clarey with son Emmett, 12, and Bailey, who was a lttle nervous about the crowd. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Bridget Caddekk, 7, Adrianna Brinn, 6, and Tina Pellerin, 4, were doing their version of the Irish jig while waiting for the parade. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Clockwise from left, Allegra Walker, Nate Walker, Debra Sprengel, Mark Sprengel, Corey Schutzman, and Penelope and Jonathan Sprengel, rocking their Irish headgear and bling. Photo/Carol Robidoux

“Clip” the clown, aka Scott Hodgdon, one of the Bektash Shrine clowns. Photo/Carol Robidoux

George Rousseau, recipient of the Thomas J. King Award.

Patt Banning of Merrimack and granddaughter Alivia Banning of Bedford. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Jane Kelly, seated, celebrating 50 years of recovery, with Karla Gallagher of Hope Recovery. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Angela Manugian with son Owen, 18 months. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Kelly Riley of Hope Recovery.

Richard D. Irving donned a huge tie and dapper hat for the parade. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Santo Gae, left, and Scott McQuillen, bonding over their families’ mutual immigrant statuses and reinforcing the importance of love and acceptance. Photo/Carol Robidoux

As the crowd dispersed Scott McQuillen, in his proper Ancient Order of Hibernians suit jacket and tie, and Santo Gae, in his laid-back American flag sweatsuit ensemble, had a moment on the sidewalk in front of Veterans Park. McQuillen ended up explaining the origin of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish to Gae, who came to Manchester in 2003 from South Sudan.

“The KKK was coming into town for a rally and the football team said ‘bleep that.’ They were Catholic/Irish and the KKK hated them, too. The football team beat the crap out of them at the train station and ran them out of town. The next day they reported that the Notre Dame ‘fighting Irish’ beat the Klan,” McQuillen said.

Gae told McQuillen that his family came to the U.S. as immigrants and are proud to be Americans.

“My family, too,” McQuillen said.

“Love is love, once you feel it from your heart,” Gae said, as the men parted with a hug and a handshake.


Serving as parade MCs and commentators for Manchester Public TV were Kathy Staub and Marty Quirk. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Marty Quirk, who shared MC duties with Kathy Staub, was fully booked for a day of Irish pride – after the parade he was due at the Shaskeen for his regular Sunday 2-5 p.m. performance of traditional Irish music. As he dashed down Elm Street toward the pub, he took a moment to reflect on the day’s events.

“It’s great to have it back after this COVID coma,” Quirk said. “I like that it’s a family day. St. Patrick’s Day can be a little wild, but this reminds me of how it’s celebrated in Ireland. And financially, it’s a great boon to the city. It’s like we get a second St. Patrick’s Day out of it – it’s not over ’til we say it’s over.”


Ashley Gallagher, third from the right, had a curbside seat with her family, Kelliann Parker, Lillian Gallegahr, Mercedes Gallagher, Brady Gallagher, Grace Gallagher and Kyran Gallagher, and 10-month-old Whiskey, their Australian Kelpie, whose signature collar is always shamrock green. Photo/Carol Robidoux

The annual parade brings lots of business to the downtown – before the parade there was a line waiting for seating at the Thirsty Moose on Elm Street, as seen through the front window. Photo/Carol Robidoux

All of the city high schools were in fine form and represented with marching bands, and in addition, bands from Bedford, Bishop Guertin and Londonderry High School also marched. A full list of parade participants can be found here.

The 2022 parade was supported by the City of Manchester and a number of local sponsors, listed here.


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carol-robidoux

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!