Call it the luck of the Irish. There was no sunshine but the rain stayed away until after Alexandria’s 21st St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 2.
The crowds were smaller than usual because of the gloomy weather, but all who attended were moved by the patriotic tenor of this year’s event.
“We are so grateful to Congressman Jim Moran for getting us the flag that flew over the Pentagon on Sept. 11, and that we could have our firefighters and police officers from around the area carrying it,” said Pat Troy, the godfather and organizer of the parade. The Ballyshiners organize the event every year.
“Ours is the first of the 300 parades around the country,” Troy said as he accepted the City Council proclamation last week. “And we are the only city in the United States that flies the Irish flag for the entire month of March, recognizing the importance of the contributions of the Irish people to Alexandria.”
The huge flag from the Pentagon was on display for the first and only time since Sept. 11, and was returned to Fort Belvoir where it will become part of the National Army Museum that will be built there. “It is a very special flag and we were thrilled to be able to honor it in this way,”” said US Congressman James P. Moran, (D-8).
Another feature of the parade and the day were the dogs from the dog show. Councilwoman Redella S. “Del” Pepper was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the show once again this year. “It was just a wonderful event as usual,” Pepper said. “Every participant got some award because we have only winners in this show.”
About 50 dogs participated and there were many more in the audience. The dogs then walked in the parade.
“Over the years, the parade has changed,” said Mayor Kerry J. Donley. “This year, certainly, it was very patriotic, as our other parades have been. There is just a feeling of community that is very special and unique to Alexandria. The parade just makes you feel like you live in a small town even in the middle of such a metropolitan setting. It was a good day and it didn’t rain.”