The local Irish will celebrate the 24th Shamrock Run and St. Patrick’s Parade this Sunday, March 11: a day to wear your green and brandish your enthusiasm for the Ould Sod. Team Ireland was originally composed of three guys who came up with the idea to hold a run down Broadway on what they dubbed the “first day of spring.” Jim Kelley Smith, Bob Nanz and Bob Ryan figured that a race at the end of winter, attached to Kingston’s St. Patrick’s Parade, would bring people out and give them something to do.
Two hundred ninety-seven runners signed up for the Shamrock Run that first year, signaling an enthusiasm that has done nothing but grow since 1988, to become perhaps the largest race between Albany and New York City. Sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Father Con Colbert Woulfe Division One and the Ladies’ Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) Division Five, the race kicks off a fun-filled day with a decidedly Irish flavor to it.
They call it a “flat, fast and first-class” fun run, open to one and all, with lots of wearing of the green. After the first couple of years, the race became a fundraiser for local community-based charities, particularly organizations that serve children. This year’s recipient will be the Washbourne House, Ulster County’s Battered Women’s Shelter [read more about the shelter on page 10 of this week’s Almanac]. Team Ireland’s goal is to register 4,500 runners to help fill the coffers of this vital service to the community.
The two-mile course starts at Academy Green on Albany Avenue, across the street from the Governor Clinton Apartments, and ends at the foot of Broadway in the Rondout District. Runners can check in and register between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. for an entry fee of $20, and the race begins with a cannon boom at 12:50 p.m. sharp. A Post-Race Party will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Rondout Neighborhood Center at 105 Broadway, where prizes will be distributed, randomly drawn from all registered runners, including two round-trip tickets to Ireland.
At 1 p.m. the Parade steps off from the Kingston Plaza and proceeds down Broadway to the Rondout Creek waterfront district in Kingston with floats, bands and community organizations strutting their stuff. Led by Grand Marshal John Kelly and “Mayor for the Day” Kathleen Houghtaling, the festivities will feature Micaela Lee Ryan as Irish Princess and Samuel Anthony Feeney as the Bearer of St. Patrick.
Ryan is the daughter of Bob and Amy Ryan of Hurley. An honor-roll sophomore at Kingston High School, she studies ballet and Irish step dance, and has performed in the Catskill Ballet Theater’s annual Nutcracker. She plays violin and has been chosen to perform in the All County Orchestra numerous times as well.
Twelve-year-old Samuel Feeney, the son of Sean and Lisa Feeney, is the 2011/2012 president of the Junior Ancient Order of the Hibernians Division One Ulster County, an organization dedicated to helping others. The J. W. Bailey Middle School seventh-grader enjoys sports and plays the violin.
The afternoon’s festivities will continue in the Rondout until 4 p.m., and will include trophies given for Best Band, Best School Float, Best-Decorated Float, Best Original Group and Best Irish Spirit. After the Parade the AOH/LAOH party at the White Eagle Hall on Delaware Avenue will be serving up corned beef at no charge. By the end of a day like this one, everyone’s a little bit Irish.