By Eric Mark, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
Sunday saw mostly gray skies and many shades of green on the ground for the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
A large crowd packed the parade route on both sides of South Main Street leading to Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Parents and grandparents held young children, while older children and a few adults scrambled for candy tossed onto the side of the road. Several dogs, some wrapped in green, walked with their owners along sidewalks they shared with baby strollers.
About 100 groups in six divisions marched. They included school bands, Irish dance groups, bagpipers, community organizations, local businesses, elected officials and the city fire and police departments.
“This is what we like to see,” said Ted Wampole, executive director of Visit Luzerne County, the county’s tourism bureau. “It’s a great opportunity to get a lot of people out … people having a good time.”
Wampole estimated that several thousand people came to downtown Wilkes-Barre to watch the parade, despite wet, gloomy weather most of the morning.
The local chapter of Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians marched for the 39th straight year, according to members Maureen O’Hara Lavelle and Mary Ann Amesbury. It is also the 125th anniversary of the founding of the nationwide organization of Irish and Irish-American Catholic women, they said after completing the parade route.
The morning slush and rain did not dissuade about 10 group members from marching, since previous years’ parades have seen challenging weather including snow, Lavelle said.
“It wasn’t too bad,” she said. “We’ve had worse.”
Members of the Kruk family, including three children, made their annual trip from Mountain Top to watch the parade.
Jen Kruk waved to someone she knew on one of the floats that passed by near the end of the parade in Public Square.
When asked if she was Irish, she replied:
“Yes. Everyone is Irish today.”