Tens of thousands of green-clad spectators will be gathering in downtown Davenport at midday today for one of the world’s top-ranked St. Patrick’s Day parades.
John Scally, of the St. Patrick’s Society of the Quad Cities, says they’ve had to limit the number of entries to 80, as the parade is already about two miles long.
“We ask that each entry reflect some type of Irish theme and most, if not all, do that,” Scally says. “We have a lot of Irish families that march in our parade. Musical groups, of course, and those people that will go to the extra effort to create a unique float.”
The parade starts at 11:30 A-M in Rock Island, Illinois, and crosses the Mississippi River via the Centennial Bridge into Davenport, making it the only bi-state St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country.
Scally says this 26th annual parade is hugely popular and draws massive crowds, rain or shine.
“When I moved here 40 years or so ago, St. Patrick’s Day was just a day for Irish-Americans to gather at their favorite tavern, have a few beers and go home,” Scally says. “Now, it is a major event and day in the Quad Cities.”
A host of other Irish-themed events are underway in Davenport through the weekend, including a 5-K run, a post-parade bash, a clan luncheon and the naming of the Quad Cities’ Irish Mother of the Year.
Scally says the parade itself is unrivaled in Iowa and is among the finest in the land.
“Digital City, a polling group for AOL, determined that we were the number-13 best St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world,” Scally says. “Number-one, they consider to be downtown Chicago, number-two Dublin, then it goes into New York, Boston and Savannah, so we have been recognized as something very special and unique and we’re very, very proud of that.”
Several entries in the parade feature bagpipes as well as plenty of drummers.
The parade should last about 90 minutes. For more information, visit www.stpatsqc.com.