‘Mango’ Mike leads 41st St. Patrick’s Day parade.

‘Mango’ Mike leads 41st St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Parade Grand Marshal ‘Mango’ Mike Anderson, center, enjoys the parade with wife Donna and Sheriff Sean Casey.

Parade Grand Marshal ‘Mango’ Mike Anderson, center, enjoys the parade with wife Donna and Sheriff Sean Casey.

Irish eyes were smiling on Alexandria as rainy skies dried up just as the 41st annual St. Patrick’s Day parade kicked off March 2 in Old Town.

Sponsored by the nonprofit Ballyshaners organization, the parade is an effort to promote and preserve the Irish culture and history of the city. “Mango” Mike Anderson, a prominent business leader in the community, served as Grand Marshal of the parade.

“I am so honored to be a part of an amazing Alexandria tradition that started 41 years ago by fellow restaurateur Pat Troy,” Anderson said. “I am hoping it’s around for another 41 so my grandchildren can enjoy it.”

Anderson was joined on the reviewing stand by his wife Donna, daughter Dakota Saba and grandsons Shae, 5, and Riley, 18 months.  

Troy, who died in 2018, was one of several prominent business leaders who founded the Ballyshaners in 1980 for the explicit purpose of organizing a St. Patrick’s Day parade, which began in 1982. The volunteer organization’s mission has grown to promoting and preserving Irish history and culture. Events include the Alexandria Irish Festival, held each summer as a fundraiser to support the parade.

“Alexandria’s history is filled with the contributions of the Irish people who lived here,” Troy said at the time in advocating for the parade. “It is appropriate that we celebrate and recognize their contributions.”

Troy, who was born in Kilcormac, Ireland, immigrated to the U.S. in 1961. He arrived with $50 in his pocket and worked for many years as a butler. In the 1980s, he opened The Irish Walk import store and Pat Troy’s Ireland’s Own Restaurant and Pub, famous for celebratory sing-a-longs and a St. Patrick’s Day visit from President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

The parade is held annually on the first Saturday in March so that, according to Troy, Irish heritage would be celebrated all month long rather than on a single day. The parade features more than 2,000 participants including pipe bands, Irish dance schools, community groups and other musicians and performers.



A color guard leads the 41st annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade March 2 in Old Town. Photo by Janet Barnett/Gazette Packet 

Murphy’s Irish Pub   

Dakota Saba with 18-month-old Riley.

Irish dancers

Yates Automotive