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Special to The PREVIEW
This Saturday, March 15, beginning at 11 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will “Put on the Irish” with a grand celebration in the church parking lot. You are invited to don your most outlandish Irish costumes: silly hats, big glasses, leprechaun shoes, green beads, green wigs and whatever else you can find to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and join the fun.
Twenty local vendors and organizations have signed up to bring their crafts, coupons, information and games. The Morning Rotary Club will have Irish souvenirs on hand to sell and the church will be selling lunch, lemonade and other assorted goodies. You can even get a cool glass of free lemonade by bringing cans for the church food pantry.
At noon, there will be the world’s shortest parade, with St. Patrick himself in the lead. The Humane Society will be on hand to parade adoptable pets, along with bagpipers and a fire truck to add extra Irish flare.
At 1 p.m., Irish dancers from Durango will present traditional Irish dancing. The music will continue until 3 p.m., when the parking lot party ends. Though no alcohol will be served at St. Patrick’s, local breweries will have booths and will offer discount coupons with hopes that the partiers will make the rounds to support the local pubs later in the day.
Parking will be available at designated places at the hospital and at John Paul II Catholic Church, next door to the church. There will be motorized carts on hand to transport folks to the event from the parking lots, though it is also an easy walking distance.
“St. Patrick is our church’s patron saint,” says Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “We cannot let the day go by without a big party.”
Last year, when it was discovered that the Chamber had discontinued the downtown parade, church parishioners Jim and Becky Dorian took matters into their own hands and decided to organize a parking lot party. The church readily got on board with the idea of having a festival, though last year it was a very spur of the moment attempt.
“We didn’t have much time to pull it together,” says local bagpiper Jim Dorian. “Still we had about a hundred people show up and everyone had a great time.”
This year, with more time to prepare, they have pulled in many more participants and are hoping for a big turnout of community people to join the party.
“This is not meant to be a fundraiser for the church,” says Dorian. “We just want to have a fun community celebration of our beloved St. Patrick. We also want to offer the opportunity for local organizations and artists to have the opportunity to sell their wares or hand out information. And, if we have the ‘luck o’ the Irish’ with us, we’ll have good weather. If not, dress warm! The party will go on.”
So, come prepared to dance and sing and don’t forget to wear the green.
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. The Irish Festival will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. No admission charge. Open to everyone.