Kicking off Alexandria’s 25th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the traditional breakfast for city leaders and dignitaries, Parade Chairman Pat Troy told those gathered at the Holiday Inn Select Saturday morning, “This parade is not just run by the Ballyshaners, it’s run in conjunction with our city. This is the most supportive city in America.”
He was followed by Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. “This is a truly wonderful day in Alexandria. This 25th Anniversary parade presents us with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the diversity of Alexandria,” he said.
This year’s Grand Marshal, John T. Dunleavy, also serves as chairman of New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Of Alexandria’s parade, he said, “This parade brings out the best in all of us and represents what this city is all about. On St. Patrick’s Day in New York City everybody is Irish.”
As the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Washington Metropolitan Region each year, Alexandria’s parade initiates Irish-American Heritage Month. It commences on Friday night before the parade with the black-tie Grand Marshal’s Ball.
This year Troy and his wife, Bernadette, were presented with special medallions to commemorate the event’s quarter century and their commitment to promoting Irish heritage and Alexandria.
U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-8) said Troy has “been the heart and soul of this parade,” and “Even more important, you have regularly contributed, in significant ways, to the betterment of the Irish-American and Alexandria communities.”
U.S. Army Gen. Guy C. Swan III, commander, Military District of Washington, thanked those present for “all the support” given the military “throughout this entire region.” That support was returned by the military as units from every branch of the Armed Services led the nearly two-hour procession down King Street from West to Fairfax streets.
Also in attendance at the breakfast were Deputy Ambassador of Ireland Orla Hanrahan, Alexandria Vice Mayor Redella “Del” Pepper, councilpersons, Paul Smedberg and Joyce Woodson, State Sen. Patricia S. Ticer (D-30), Dels. Adam Ebbin (D-49) and David Englin (D-45) and a host of others.
The parade is sponsored by The Ballyshaners, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Irish heritage. Membership is open to anyone. In addition to the parade they sponsor Alexandria’s Annual Irish Festival. The name, Ballyshaners, means “Old Towners” in Gaelic.
Preceding the parade is the annual “Fun Dog Show” at Market square and the antique/classic car show. Each year the dog show is judged by newscaster John Harter and one of the founders of the Ballyshaners, retired Judge Daniel Fairfax O’Flaherty.