You know Irish eyes are smiling when Mayor Quinton Lucas joins your parade as Grand Marshal. That’s just one reason we’re feeling lucky about the 33rd Annual Martin City St. Patrick’s Parade. The biggest event of the year in our community will draw the largest crowd of the year and give local businesses a valuable chance to make a lasting impression.
20,000 Reasons to Expect a Good Time.
St. Patrick’s Day events face some challenges on a Tuesday. Yep, March 17th is in the middle of the week this year. Unless you’re especially committed, you might be tempted by an earlier celebration on March 15th.
“We always schedule our parade the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day,” says Vickie Wolgast, District Manager of the Martin City Community Improvement District (MCCID). “There’s been a great response to that idea. It seems to fit well for many families.”
The MCCID is organizing this year’s event and right about now Wolgast and parade supporters are starting to scramble. Around 20,000 people turn out for the Martin City St. Patrick’s Parade every year and this year should be no different. In fact, our community is getting so much attention these days that the crowd could be even bigger.
You have to wonder what the late R.C Van Noy would think of all this success more than three decades after he staged our first St. Pat’s Parade on the fly in typical R.C. style. As a founding father of Martin City’s scrappy spirit, R.C. recognized what could happen if we all just pitched in.
“St. Pat’s, Martin City and a parade turned out to be a great combination,” says Wolgast. “Our community has always thrived on celebration. This parade really brings everything together.”
The atmosphere gets even greener with the unofficial pairing of the parade and The Martin City Whiskey Run 5k. Both events used to happen on the same day but are now scheduled about a week apart because they simply got too popular and too large. Wolgast says there’s no doubt about it, March is a very big month.
“March is a time of year when people want to be part of our community. They feel like they’re in the right place for St. Patrick’s fun. The crowds are the right size and there’s plenty of energy but not so much that things get difficult.”
Martin City’s St. Patrick’s Parade draws from across the Greater Kansas City area, especially communities along the south side and both sides of the state line. People either want to directly support the parade or just make a point of being there for bragging rights.
“You want to be able to say you were here at least once,” says Wolgast. “It’s a big deal, but at the same time it feels like a small town event. I think that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s very family-oriented. I know many people like to avoid bigger parades and the stress that can come with that.”
A Diverse Community On Grand Display.
A parade’s success depends on participation and Martin City welcomes the chance to come together. You might say collaboration is our four-leaf clover. When we all step up, we put on quite a show.
“So much of our community is on display in the parade,” says Wolgast. “This year there will be everything from bands and dancers to themed floats, classic cars and maybe even horses. It’s an entertaining mix of fun stuff that reflects who we are.”
Entering the parade is free and dozens are already lining up. The roster could climb to 60 or more and local celebrity judges will award cash prizes of up to $500 to the best of the best. Fox 4 News Anchor John Holt will continue his emcee tradition and expect none other than Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas as Grand Marshal!
“We’re just so happy to have Mayor Lucas involved and supporting what we’re doing in Martin City,” says Wolgast. “The parade is such a great opportunity for our neighborhood to be seen, especially our businesses. They don’t get this kind of exposure every day. Many sponsor and appear in the parade. If you’re proud of Martin City, this is the time to show it.”
Volunteers are critical. Individuals and organizations are needed to help with keeping crowds safe along the parade route and other responsibilities that ensure things run smoothly. Businesses can provide a group of employee volunteers for special assignments in return for event recognition.
“If you’re ready to help, we can use you,” says Wolgast. “We’ll take all the support we can get.”
A New Experience on an Old Route.
This year’s Martin City St. Patrick’s Parade runs right through the heart of our community. Participants will organize along Washington Street and move east along 135th Street to Holmes Road. If you’ve struggled a bit to find footing to see the spectacle in years past, Wolgast says this year should be much better.
“The 135th Street improvement project is finally finished! No more navigating ditches along the parade route. You can stand or even sit on Martin City’s new sidewalks and enjoy the parade against a backdrop of beautification that’s been under construction for years. It’s really taking our parade to a whole new level.”
The route down 135th Street is simple and fairly short which sort of shapes the event as one big celebration. All the bands, dancers and floats will move slowly, allowing crowds to better connect with the experience and take in the details of the costumes, performances and other attractions.
“We encourage businesses along the route to come up with their own ideas for making the route even better,” says Wolgast. “Face painting, activities for kids or something similar your business can offer, as thousands of people gather, will be a bonus for you, the event and the community.”
A Taste that Leaves You Hungry for More.
It seems like many in the Martin City St. Patrick’s Parade crowd are regulars. You hear people talking about coming back year after year to get a taste of Martin City after the snow melts and spring settles in. For loyal Martin City fans, March kicks off a year-round relationship that brings them to the neighborhood for summer shopping, meals on restaurant patios and late night drinks under the stars. They’ll also return in the fall for fireside toasts as trains chug by and bundle up to join our holiday lighting festivities.
“More and more new people come out every year,” says Wolgast. “It can start with tagging along with a friend to the Whiskey Run and the St. Pat’s Parade. The next thing you know, you’re hooked.”
Business owners can get hooked too. Events like the parade help attract them to Martin City. And once they open their doors here, they can’t imagine being anywhere else.
“A parade can happen anywhere, but ours is special because it’s also an enduring tradition, just like Martin City itself. Many businesses want to ground themselves in a community like ours. It’s a great place to put down roots and contribute to a colorful story.”