By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]
Put on some green and grab a pint of Guinness – Alexandria’s 39th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is hitting King Street and Old Town on Saturday.
Held on the first Saturday of March, the parade – and accompanying Fun Dog Show – has become an annual tradition in Alexandria and a major boon for businesses in Old Town. The parade is held and organized by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit organization that promotes and preserves Irish heritage in the city.
This year, more than 2,000 people will march in the parade, including the Notre Dame Alumni Band, local dog rescue groups, pipe and drum bands, Irish dancers, historical re-enactors and other community groups.
The festivities begin at 10:30 a.m. in Market Square with the Fun Dog Show, which the Ballyshaners organize to benefit the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. More than 30 festively dressed pups will compete for a number of awards, including the Best Human/Canine Look-Alike, Most Talented and Most St. Paddy’s Spirit awards.
The dogs will kick off the parade at the intersection of King and Alfred streets at 12:30 p.m. The parade will travel south along King Street, turn left onto Lee Street and end at the intersection of Lee and Cameron streets. John Brennan, original owner of Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant and Bar, will lead the parade as grand marshal.
The parade’s continued success is largely due to the Ballyshaners’ fundraising efforts. While the city pays for half of the costs related to staffing members of the Alexandria Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and other city departments, the Ballyshaners fund the majority of the parade. The nonprofit covers the other half of staffing, in addition to all other expenses, including event permits, stage rental and insurance.