37th annual Mahoning Valley St. Patrick's Day Parade set for March 15
By Jordyn Grzelewski
As temperatures are set to rise above freezing over the next few days, one Mahoning Valley organization is busy preparing for what its members hope will be the area’s first big springtime event.
March 15 will mark the 37th annual Mahoning Valley St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade, which starts at 1 p.m., will proceed down Market Street from McClurg Road to Southwoods Avenue in celebration of all things Irish.
The theme this year is “For the Love of Erin.”
“Erin means Ireland. And the Irish community in Youngstown has a true love for the Irish community in Ireland,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, president of the parade organization.
“Even the people who aren’t Irish love Ireland, so we thought ‘For the Love of Erin’ was a good theme for us this year,” she said.
In keeping with the theme, the parade will honor a local man who has demonstrated a true love for the Irish. The grand marshal of this year’s parade is Dick Coughlin, the owner of The House of Erin, an Irish store on Southern Boulevard in the township.
“They have been a mainstay for the Irish in Youngstown,” said Kale-Pesta. “He has always contributed to the Irish community. ... He’s a true Irish gentleman.”
Coughlin’s parents came to America from County Cork, and he was born on the North Side of Youngstown. He and his wife have been providing the community with Irish products since they opened The House of Erin in the early 1990s, starting with a small kiosk and then moving to their current location.
The Ockerman Award recipient is Tom Eich; the Lord Mayor of Kilkenny is Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols; and the Cleary Award will honor Terry Brennan.
Trophies for Best of Parade and Best Irish Theme, among other categories, will be awarded. Along with the parade’s signature shamrock balloon, spectators also can look forward to music from several bands and animal entries such as horses and llamas. Boardman High School’s marching band will lead the parade.
“Hopefully it’ll be the big spring event of the year. The children love the parade — they love the band, they love the firetrucks and they love getting dressed up in their green,” said Kale-Pesta.
Sponsors of the event include The Vindicator, 21 WFMJ-TV and the Mahoning Valley Irish organizations, among others.