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St. Patrick's Day celebrations begin

by jmaloni
Sat, Mar 8th 2014 07:00 am
Scenes from St. Patrick's Day in Youngstown (file photo).
Scenes from St. Patrick's Day in Youngstown (file photo).
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Fun events in Youngstown, Buffalo, Niagara Falls

by Terry Duffy

The 2013-14 winter to forget is finally starting to exit and become forgotten. With warming temperatures at hand, there's even a few tinges 'o green slowly starting to appear.

We've just got through another bout of cold temps along with a rather frigid Shamrock Run down in the Valley last week in South Buffalo. But on local streets and in area businesses, there's refreshing signs - lovely Irish flags waving and familiar green décor. Must be that St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner.

And not a moment too soon!

Yes, what many view as the Buffalo-Niagara area's annual right of spring is fast approaching. Best to grab your green and get ready for some corned beef, cabbage, fine Irish culture, music and dancing, and of course those Irish beverages. St. Patrick's Day is at hand. There's a host of events going on throughout Niagara and Erie counties where you can celebrate the "luck of the Irish" - all this week through next Saturday, Sunday and Monday, March 17.

Up in the northern Niagara County, the Youngstown Business and Professional Association has been hard at work on its annual tribute to the late Neil C. Riordan, beloved former mayor of the Village of Youngstown who passed away in 2011. Now in its third year, the "O'Riordan St. Patrick's Day Parade - Honoring Neil" will take place on Saturday, March 15.

Organized by Cheryl Butera of Anchor Spirits, YBPA president, and Diane Melloni of Melloni's Market Place, who serves as parade chair, the 2014 event will again help fulfill a year's-long wish of the former mayor, that being a tribute to the Irish heritage of his community.

"It is notable for those who don't know, that Neil Riordan had a dream of having a St. Paddy's Day Parade in Youngstown while he was alive," said Butera. "His mother's maiden name was O'Riordan and his father's name, of course, was Riordan. It is in Neil's memory that the Youngstown Business and Professional Association Inc. has found a way to realize the Riordan family's dream in such a festive and fun way."

Beginning at noon, the parade route will follow on Main Street in the village, starting at Hinman Street and proceeding north to the Ontario House, aka The Jug, at Main and Lockport streets. With its theme of "Everything Youngstown, everything green!" expect this parade to be rather unique. Joining a host of VIPs from the Village of Youngstown and the Riordan family, there will be shopping carts decked in green décor serving as floats, Old Fort Niagara Association re-enactors marching in procession, dancers from the Youngstown Dance Shop, Celtic tunes provided by a loosely organized group that bills itself as the Youngstown MacKenzie Highlanders Pipes and Drums - even green beads passed out to kids and parade watchers. "Last year was big. This year will be bigger - more participants, more musicians, more shopping carts-floats," said Butera.

She adds that among the members of Riordan family participating, "Michael (Riordan) will be coming in from Rochester, and he'll have his kilt."

Shopping cart-floats in the parade are being provided to YBPA participants by Melloni's Market Place and there will be a contest for the best decorated. Thus far Youngstown businesses Anchor Spirits, Melloni's, Victoria's Hair Care and Bandana's are participating and Butera expects other YBPA members to join in. "Diane has reached out to all businesses. It's been all-spontaneous. Our theme is Jameson," she adds with a laugh in reference to the Irish whiskey. Judges for the contest include Jennifer Pauly, president of the Niagara River Region Chamber, Dotty Riordan, wife of the former mayor, and Lori Duke Adamson, wife of Youngstown Village Trustee Tim Adamson.

Butera notes the Pipes and Drums gathering will have its share of local personalities, including Vince Burke; Monte and Marcia Jones of Step in Time; Ray Dietz on bagpipes, Rich Jagow on violin, plus Gary Asby, Michelle and Nicholas Ricciuti, Kate Myers and Anita and Don Harless. A number of other musicians are expected and the invite door remains open.

As the parade wraps up, participants and attendees will proceed to The Jug for a time of food, drink and merriment. Eddy Wojick, owner of The Jug will be serving up tasty servings of corned beef and potato soup along with a fare of Irish beverages, and entertainment will feature the sounds of Limerick throughout the day to 5 p.m.

Butera and Melloni invite you to stop by in Youngstown on Saturday for all the fun. For more on this one, visit the YBPA page on Facebook.

Other good St. Patrick's Day happenings to check out:

•In South Buffalo, the Valley Community Association will hold its 21st annual "Old Neighborhood St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 15, starting at noon from the center, 91 Leddy St. The parade will wind through the streets of the historic Buffalo River community. Viewing of the parade is available along South Park Avenue (between Hamburg and Smith streets), Smith Street (between South Park Avenue and Elk Street), Elk Street (between Smith Street and South Park Avenue), Hamburg Street (between South Park and O'Connell avenues), and O'Connell Avenue (between Hamburg and Louisiana streets).

For more information on the parade and post events, visit www.thevalleycenter.com

•On Sunday, March 16, the United Irish American Association of Erie County will host its 74th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade along Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo.

An area favorite, the parade gets underway at 2 p.m. and is expected to feature dozens of units. Mass will be celebrated that morning by Bishop Richard J. Malone at St. Joseph's Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. before the lineup for the parade that begins in Niagara Square. The Association announced that Chris Laffler of Tonawanda will serve as grand marshal of the 2014 St. Patrick's Day Parade, which continues along Delaware Avenue to 4 p.m. For more, visit www.buffalostpatricksdayparade.com.

•The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Men's Division 1 of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians Niagara Falls, NY, will hold its 32nd annual St. Patrick's Day Party on Monday, March 17, at the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, 101 Falls St.

Celebrating St. Patrick and also the 122nd birthday of the City of Niagara Falls, the event will lead off with what's termed the "world's shortest parade" at 4:45 p.m. and follow with "Western New York's Biggest St. Patrick's Day Celebration" from 5 to 10 p.m. Tickets for the event are $7 in advance and $8 at the door. There will be music by The Blarney Bunch, dancing by the McCarthy School of Irish Dance, corned beef and cabbage served and, of course, Irish beer and other beverages.

AOH organizers will be collecting nonperishable food items to be donated to the Love, Heart and Soul Pantry in memory of On Gorta Mór, the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1850.

For more on this, contact AOH publicity at 716-285-0764.

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