Green hues and bagpipe tunes filled downtown Milwaukee streets for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The cloudy Saturday afternoon didn’t yield an actual rainbow or a pot of gold, but plenty of parade-goers still gathered to be Irish for the day along North Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and Wisconsin Ave.
Organized by the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin, the 55th parade since 1967 featured live music performances including the 484th Army Reserve Band and Billy Mitchell Scottish pipe band, and dancers from Beglan Academy and McNamara McCarthy School of Irish Dance.
Volunteers tossed candy and beaded necklaces to the crowd, much to the delight of one group who began a chant for “beads! beads! beads!”
Generosity went both ways: attendees could give back when the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies marched by with their gold pom-poms to collect cash donations for the Hunger Task Force.
And what would a St. Patrick’s Day parade be without Irish dogs breeds? Irish Setters pranced along the parade route with their wispy auburn fur, and tall Irish Wolfhounds strutted by. Canine companions filled the audience, too — they donned green bandanas, Irish flag-stiped collars and even a rainbow-dyed tail.
“We come to every parade, every year,” said Laura Powers, who brought her dog Olive for the first time this year. “We love the music.”
The Shamrock Club has hosted the modern parade since 1967, but the earliest St. Patrick’s Day parade actually predates Wisconsin’s statehood. The Irish Repeal Movement and the Temperance Movement inspired the 1843 parade, one of the earliest in the U.S.
St. Patrick’s Day festivities continue: The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin Post Parade Party takes place the same day from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Irish Cultural & Heritage Center.