The eighth annual St. Augustine St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place March 10.
Starting at 10 a.m. at Francis Field, located at 29 W. Castillo Drive, the parade will travel down Orange Street to Avenida Menendez (the bayfront), then to Cathedral Place, Cordova Street and back to Orange. Spectators are encouraged to arrive early to claim a spot along the route, and then head to the St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival following the parade.
City of St. Augustine archaeologist Carl Hailbirt will serve as the 2018 grand marshal of the parade. Hailbirt has been involved in 800 projects, with 150 of them involving excavation throughout the city. He has uncovered church cemeteries, skeletal remains of early St. Augustine colonists, animals, alligator eggs and various artifacts.
"I was shocked when I was asked to be the grand marshal, but then felt it was such an honor," Halbirt said. "St. Augustine is such a diverse community, and the Irish are part of our history. We have certainly found archaeological remains of the Irish."
There will be nearly 50 units in the parade this year. Among them will be the Clans and athletes from the Highland Games, who will be carrying their flags and banners with the music, colors, language and stories of their ancestors. Local officials will also be part of the parade, including Mayor Nancy Shaver and City of St. Augustine commissioners. Other units include the 501st Legion (storm troopers in kilts), ghostbusters, pirates and clowns, four pipe and drum corps, two schools of Irish dance, two horse units and two honor guards.
Entrants will be judged in one of three categories: band, marching unit or float. Prizes will be given for the best in each category. The reviewing stand is on the balcony of Ann O'Malley's Irish Pub on Orange Street.
The St. Augustine St. Patrick's Day Parade is produced by Romanza - St. Augustine and is funded in part by St. Johns County Tourist Development Council, and by the State of Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and Florida Council on Arts and Culture.
"We want to make this a community event that everyone can enjoy," said parade organizer Chris Fulmer, who has been involved with the parade since its second year. "And we have a really dedicated team working with us to make everything run smoothly."