As the brisk winds of the morning ebbed, Sarah Donahue stood at the point of Pittston’s “wedge,” watching the seventh parade she has overseen take its first steps up Main Street on Saturday.
“When it starts moving, it’s like it’s here, you did it, enjoy this moment,” she said.
The line of floats, cars and walking groups wound its way along Main Street on March 7 for the city’s seventh annual St. Patrick’s Parade.
“There’s a million logistics that went into it that no one realizes,” Donahue said.
The winners of the previous weekend’s Little Miss and Little Mister Leprechaun pageant rode near the front of the parade. Richard McCabe, 6, of Kingston, bore the title of Little Mister Leprechaun this year, while Hailey Lane, 3, of Hughestown, won the Little Miss Leprechaun title.
The parade, which started at noon, may have been the main event of the day, but other St. Patrick’s themed events brought people into downtown Pittston ahead of the parade.
The day began with a special Mass held by St. John the Evangelist Church, then the Greater Pittston YMCA opened its doors to take registrations for the city’s fourth Leprechaun Loop run and walk.
“This looks to be our best year out of the four,” said Leprechaun Loop Committee Chairwoman Tiffany Ferentino. “We’re about to pass our record … Well over 200 runners and walkers.”
The participants ran or walked the 1-mile course of the parade route starting at 11:30 a.m. At the end of the loop, 17-year-old Michael Branley, of West Pittston, took the men’s title with a time of 4 minutes, 55 seconds and Aubrianna Marranca, 16, of Exeter won the women’s title with a time of 5 minutes, 47 seconds.
Ferentino said the Leprechaun Loop not only brings participants downtown early, but gets the early crowds excited, as well.
“Our goal has always been to make this the start of the extravaganzas of the day,” she said. “By the time the parade starts, the excitement is already spreading through the town.”
The Emerald Isle Step Dancers felt that excitement as they waited in the parade lineup, rehearsing for the day and staying warm in the cold winds. Stephanie Schlude, of Mountain Top, prepared to dance the parade route while her daughter, Maren, would ride in the float.
“We love to kick off the season this way,” Schlude said.
The Emerald Isle Step Dancers have taken part in the Pittston parade since it began seven years ago.
“It’s a great celebration,” Schlude said. “We love how the whole town gets involved.”
Donahue estimated about 15,000 people would flood downtown for the festivities between participating in the run or parade and celebrating at local businesses and bars such as the Red Mill, which had a packed house and line of revelers out the door throughout the morning.
Outside of the bar crowds, Donahue enjoyed seeing families and children lined up along the parade route, marveling at the floats and groups and eagerly waiting for candy and prizes.
“It’s a great representation of our Irish culture,” she said. “It’s all worth it to give people memories in our beautiful hometown.”