Sunday, March 17, 2019

St. Patrick's Parade and its preliminaries are blessed by sunny weather and a happy crowd full of families

Blake and Melissa Jones were the Irish Court of Honor, and Dan Roller was dressed as St. Patrick.
Story and photos by Akhira Umar
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

“One of the biggest rewards of all is knowing that you helped create memories,” Julie Morgan said of Woodford County’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, held Saturday because the actual day was Sunday.

The parade and its preliminaries saw plenty of green and good spirits to make memories. With sunny, 46-degree weather, families young and old with teenage and infant children, along with dogs of all shapes and sizes, spent the day in downtown Midway celebrating the Irish-themed holiday.

Bagpipers added an authentic musical touch.
Morgan, who headed the organizers, said they worried in the morning about the slight chill and the UK basketball game that would overlap with the 4 p.m. parade, but she thought the parade was a “huge success.”

“Not only did we see families at the parade today, but we were blessed to have families in the parade today,” Morgan said, noting that the children of Blake and Melissa Jones, who were the "Irish Court of Honor," rode with them in the parade.

“Someday these children are gonna look back and they’re gonna remember this,” Morgan said. “And hopefully they’ll wanna return the favor and do it for somebody else’s children. That’s what I love about it. … Everybody is just so willing to give and have fun.”

Morgan was almost overcome with emotion when talking about the turnout of the event. “I’m so excited, so happy, and so grateful, I just – I’m just happy.”

Her husband, Steve Morgan, emceed the event in a festive green kilt as vice president of the Midway Business Association. He said the turnout looked the same, if not larger than last year, and the parade had 30 entries compared to last year’s 19.

“I love to see the families,” Morgan said. “I can remember when my family did this, you know, when we had our kids in strollers. And that’s always a good memory.”

Lillie Cox dressed like a leprechaun.
In his opinion, one of the best parts of the parade was Lillie Cox as grand marshal. Cox is a long-time community activist and “she’s just very important to the whole community,” he said.

East Main Street was lined with festive decorations and booths for organization of non-profits, like Friends of Big Spring Park from Versailles, and businesses such as 2 Ladies and a Kettle. Booths informed the crowd while also joining in the festivities by offering treats and green necklaces.

While kids loved snagging necklaces, they also lined up for face painting and balloon creations. The “world’s tallest leprechaun” was quite popular and spent most of his time before the parade twisting green balloons into swords, horses and hats.

Midway didn’t leave adults out of the festivities. If they weren’t spending money on kettle corn or coffee, they were celebrating with other businesses. West Sixth Brewing had a truck for anyone wanting to browse the booths with a beer. A couple of restaurants got creative with green beer and door prizes.

Sarah Ragusa worked The Rooster’s Whistle Coffee Co. mobile truck for the duration of the day-long event and she “wouldn’t change it.” She said the company has been to all of Midway’s day-long events. Though the business she pulled from Saturday’s festivities was slow at first, she said it was “fantastic” around 2 p.m., closer to the parade.

“We just love coming up to Midway,” Ragusa said. “I love this town, I love the people here. Everybody is so nice. I don’t know if it’s just Kentucky in general or the Bluegrass area. I don’t know what it is, but everyone is so friendly, and everyone has positive things to say.”

Of course, the parade was the main attraction of the day. Families lined the sidewalks to see the spectacle that would deliver what was advertised.

Andrew Johnson of Louisville brought an interesting addition to the parade. In his right-hand-drive Jeep, it appeared to parade watchers that he was riding as a passenger while a skeleton was driving on the left. “Andrew’s Jeep Creations” has been used for themes like Shark Week, Resident Evil and The Nightmare Before Christmas, but this was its debut in Midway.
Look closely and you'll see the skeleton appearing to drive the Jeep as Andrew Johnson really does.
Johnson said it didn’t take much to be convinced to participate in the festival, echoing Ragusa about the kind residents. “I think it was great. Great turnout. Great weather,” he said. “It just couldn’t be any better, except for the wind, but it couldn’t be any better.”

Something else that stood out in the parade were dinosaurs. Though they might have seemed out of place, they carried signs promoting eco-friendliness, reflecting the parade’s “Go Green” theme. One of the dinosaur costumes was worn by Jessica Robles, daughter of the Morgans, and the couple’s niece, Cindy Newkirk.

Dinosaurs subtly communicated the "Go Green" theme.
Julie Morgan explained the dinosaurs: “Midway’s a very environmentally conscious community, and we’re always educating and learning and practicing. If everybody’s a good neighbor and they practice some positive and healthy environmental things, then we’re all gonna be better off in the long run and we won’t end up like a fossil like the dinosaurs.”

Also following the eco-friendly theme were electric cars provided by Evolve Kentucky, a non-profit. There was an emission-free Nissan, Honda and even a sleek Tesla.

First-time parade goer Candice Wallace brought her young son, Alexander Barnes, from Lexington after hearing about the event on Facebook.

“We wanted more of a kinda smaller, little more laid-back parade,” Wallace said.

Her favorite part of Saturday’s event was “just watching his delight and his enjoyment of waving to everybody even though he knows absolutely no one and knows nothing about parades.” Although her son enjoyed the parade, he was also excited to see the downtown train tracks. Wallace said because of the tracks, her son loves Midway now.

In addition to the business association, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities were sponsored by Farm Bureau (the main sponsor), Coolmore America, Bluegrass Hospital, McDonald’s, Woodford Reserve and Shadwell Farm.
Alexander Barnes of Lexington, right, accepted a necklace as the bagpipers approached.
Additional photos shared with the Midway Messenger by Mary Massie of Midway:

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