PORTLAND, Maine — A day before industrialized binge drinking in the name of St. Patrick takes over Portland’s Old Port district for 24 hours, a more family-friendly celebration of Ireland’s patron saint marched down Commercial Street on Sunday.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, sponsored by the Irish American Club of Maine, featured Boy and Girl Scouts, a pipe band, Irish dancers, unions, state champion basketball teams from Portland High School and Catherine McAuley High School and more green face paint than you could shake a shillelagh at.
“It’s the wonderful St. Patrick’s Day parade. We haven’t missed it yet,” said Carlene Stillson of the Stillson School of Irish Dance. “We love being a part of it.”
Her dancers leapt and frollicked for the crowd lining the street from the Fish Pier to the State Pier. Many children watching attempted to mimic the dancers’ graceful steps.
A group of marchers carried flags from all of Ireland’s 32 counties. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, walked beside Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. Children in sparkling green wigs carried the banner for the Maine Irish Heritage Center, which hosted a post-parade luncheon.
“Everybody has a little Irish in them and everybody loves a parade,” said Irish American Club of Maine President Kathy Reilly.