'The Wearin' of the Green Parade' was born due to the "luck of the Irish." It has stood the test of time. In 1982, Rochelle McCann, then assistant to Mayor Pat Screen, contacted Pat Shingleton at WBRZ-TV to cover the St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade he saw was a shell of what it had been in earlier days. We like to think that our parade has had two outstanding lives. Once, during the 1960's and then reborn, in the 1980's by Pat Shingleton.
The Sons of Erin, organized in 1906, was a popular Irish group for males of Irish descent. The traditions of the Sons of Erin were to dine each year on March 17 at the Capital House Hotel (earlier the Heidelberg Hotel), fly the flag of Ireland over the City and have members parade down Third Street prior to dinner. It was a small walking parade with only a handful of members that actually formed the parade. Names like Bogan, Keogh, Brennan, Murphy, Burden, Tullis, McInnis, McCurnin, McAndrew, Hynes show prominently though old clippings and Club papers. The day traditionally started out with a mass at St. Agnes Catholic church. This annual stag party featured "sitting and sipping" while listening to the "finest entertainment"...a grand tenor with a lilt to his voice. In 1951, the wives, of the members of the Sons of Erin expressed their displeasure at being excluded from the annual St. Patrick's Day activities. As a result of this exclusion, the Irish Club of Baton Rouge was formed in 1951.
Across town at Mike and Tony's, the “Marching Irish” crowned their afternoon parade with a feast. Records end in 1967. These were the days when the Irish Club of Baton Rouge was a thriving organization which would ship in fresh shamrocks every year for the celebration. A green stripe would be painted down the center of the street and Irish lassies would join the festivities as guests of Baton Rougeans for the event. Those days ended and the parade dried up.
Toward the end of the 1970's, interest in the St. Patrick Day celebrations declined. By 1980, they had all but stopped. The original parade was held in the Downtown Baton Rouge Third Street area. The parade became a skeleton of its former self with a few clowns, one band and several officials. The Baton Rouge Irish Club was reborn in 1986 when Pat Shingleton reorganized the club and the St. Patrick’s Day parade became the Wearin' of the Green Parade.
the wearin' of the green...
Pat's desire to honor his patron saint along with his fond childhood memories of St. Patrick's Day Parades in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania lead him to organize the "Wearin' of the Green Parade." With the support of then Mayor-President Pat Screen, he and a handful of friends organized the parade in 1986. The Perkins Road parade started at the City Park Golf Course and ended at ZeeZee Gardens. The early Parade/Irish Club meetings were fun with Pat leading most of them at ZeeZee's. There would be jokes, camaraderie and imbibing for all. In the first few years, Pat and Chuck Perrodin tried hard to create interest by restarting the Irish Club of Baton Rouge.
The first parade route posed line-up problems because floats lined up across the railroad tracks on East Lakeshore Drive. One year a train held up the parade since half of the floats were on the wrong side of the tracks!
After a few years, Grey Hammett joined the team adding his organizational skills to the parade. His first piece of business was to change the parade route. The start moved to the corner of Acadian Thruway and Hundred Oaks. A handful of Baton Rouge Irish Club members, headed by Don Weinman, manned the check-in point on Glenmore for many years. Behind the scenes work had been handled by The Mabyn Kean Agency staff.
The parade grew quickly as Baton Rouge fully embraced the new longer route. However, the parade was not popular with everyone. A handful of longtime citizens wanted it moved out of the Hundred Oaks residential area and this became a huge controversy one year. Proponents of keeping the parade route in the Hundred Oaks area, led by Donna Esnard, ultimately won out as the Civic Association agreed to keep it in the area. The Parade Group, LLC was formed to consolidate activities. Managerially, the parade is organized, coordinated and run by Pat Shingleton, Grey Hammett and Mabyn Shingleton.
The parade rolls rain or shine. One year it snowed the night before the parade which gave us a very cold parade the next morning. Most years you find parade-goers with a sweater or jacket in the morning and shorts underneath. We have rolled several years when it rained. Along the way on-lookers had umbrellas turned upside down to catch beads rather than thwart off the rain… only in Louisiana! Spirited 'after-parade parties' are held all over town at people’s homes in addition to local businesses. Baton Rouge has great hotels to stay in to enjoy
the food, camaraderie and festivities so we hope to see you at the next parade!
** Thanks to the entire Hammett & Shingleton families for your assistance with the parade every year.