Huntsville’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade to celebrate 46 years on March 11
Organizers seek parade group participants and announce Grand Marshal, Parade Queen
HUNTSVILLE – The 46th Annual Ellen McAnelly Memorial St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been set for Saturday, March 11, at 11 a.m. in downtown Huntsville. The community event, organized by the Irish Society of North Alabama, will be celebrating 46 years this year.
Organizers say they are currently looking for groups to join the parade. They are also seeking additional sponsors, which helps keep this event free for participants and attendees alike. The parade, presented by Straight to Ale Brewing, welcomes a variety of groups of all sizes such as clubs, families, organizations, businesses, and sports teams. The deadline to register is Monday, February 20. To register, go to IrishSocietyNA.org/parade.php.
“We are so excited to continue Ellen McAnelly’s tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Huntsville” said John Samples, Irish Society of North Alabama President. “This parade has a special history and has grown from being known as the smallest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the US in 1977 to be one of the area’s largest parades. We are very thankful for the Huntsville community and all of the support from the City of Huntsville, our sponsors, volunteers, and participants to bring what is known as a fun filled, community centered parade.”
This year’s parade Grand Marshal is Máirtín Ó Muilleoir from Belfast, Ireland. Mr. Ó Muilleoir is owner of Belfast Media Group and publishes the weekly newspaper The Irish Echo in the United States. He served as Lord Mayor of Belfast in 2013 after the historic Good Friday Accord ended the troubles and brought together Protestant and Catholic communities. Mr. Ó Muilleoir visited Huntsville and Birmingham last year to write articles about the Alabama civil rights movement which inspired the civil rights movement in the North of Ireland which ultimately led to the Good Friday and peace in the North of Ireland. He was impressed with the Alabama Irish community and wrote a second article about the community promoting Irish heritage to include this parade. “We are honored to welcome Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to Huntsville for this year’s parade” said Lisa Bollinger, Parade Director. “Máirtín is a true advocate of Irish culture and civil rights. His history with the City of Belfast is one of dedication to bring disparate groups together demonstrating that a community is stronger if it embraces all within the community. Ellen founded this parade to do that – be proud of our Irish heritage while bringing the community together to be a part of the parade and festivities.”
Said Máirtín Ó Muilleoir: “This is a great honor for me. I congratulate the Irish community of the great city of Huntsville for flying the flag for Ireland on St Patrick’s Day and for building golden bridges of commerce, culture and community between Alabama and Ireland.”
It was always Ellen’s tradition to name a Parade Queen each year. Abby Amis is the 2023 Parade Queen. Abby was also Parade Queen in 2020, but because the parade was canceled the day before it was to happen, Abby never had her Queen’s ride through the streets of Huntsville. This year we are thrilled she can be with us and serve as Parade Queen. Abby is a junior at Auburn University.
Sponsors for the parade include: Straight to Ale Brewing, Innerspace Brewing, Jefferson Street Pub, The Ryan Family and The Maggie McGuinness Pub. The Irish Society is currently seeking and welcomes additional sponsors who wish to contribute to this community event.
- The parade route will begin at Lot K on the corner of Woodson and Holmes and go through downtown Huntsville. The parade briefly will stop at St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church on Jefferson Street for the annual blessing of the parade and Irish and American flags. The parade will head south on Jefferson Street around the downtown Square and north on Washington Street to Meridian Street and end in the parking lot near the old Lumberyard. This is the first year the downtown parade will not be a loop.
The official parade afterparty takes place at Straight to Ale Brewing at Campus 805. This family friendly event includes live music, games, drink and food specials.
- The parade is named after the parade’s founder, Ellen McAnelly, who passed away in 2009. She opened Finnegan’s Pub in 1977 and held the first parade in 1978 near Finnegan’s and around the Parkway. It was known as the smallest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States, with only 18 people participating. The parade was held in Madison in 1997 and moved to downtown Huntsville in 1998 and after. The 2020 parade was canceled a day before the parade, being one of the first public events in the area that was canceled due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. There was a much smaller “march” around Straight to Ale Brewing in 2020 and 2021, in the spirit of the original parades along Memorial Parkway in the 70s and 80s that drew only a few-dozen participants. The parade returned to downtown in 2022, even with snow on the ground and bitingly-cold winds. 2023 marks the 46th consecutive parade. The parade is family friendly and for the entire community.
Groups, businesses, organizations and families that are interested in either being part of the parade or a parade sponsor can contact Lisa Bollinger at (256) 468-5612 or visit IrishSocietyNA.org/parade.php for more information. The parade’s Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/HSVStPats