'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 has had two outstanding lives. Once during the 1960's and then it was reborn in the 1980's by Pat Shingleton.
in the 1960's...
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 in some years. 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 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.
Saint Patrick’s Day morning, green-clad Joe Keogh participated in a tradition started by his father Vincent Keogh of Dublin by raising the Irish flag at 7:30 am (see photo with then mayor Pat Screen).
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, PA lead him to organize the "Wearin' of the Green Parade." With the support of then Mayor-President Pat Screen, he and a handful of organizers began the parade in 1986. The parade started at the City Park Golf Course on Perkins Road and ended at ZeeZee Gardens Pub.
Founder Pat & Michael Shingleton (age 6 months) coming across the overpass at the end of "The First Parade," 1986.
This route posed line-up problems since the floats lined up across the railroad tracks on East Lakeshore Drive. At least one year, a train held up the running of the parade since half the floats were on the wrong side of the tracks. The early Parade/Irish Club meetings were fun and festive with Pat Shingleton leading most of them at ZeeZee Gardens. There would be jokes and camaraderie and imbibing for all. In the first few years, Pat and Chuck Perrodin tried hard to make create interest for the Irish Club of Baton Rouge. At the time, club members were more interested in the fun activities once all the work had been done.
After a few years, Grey Hammett joined the team adding his organizational skills to the parade plus lengthening the route by several miles. The start of the parade 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 for many years. However, behind the scenes work had been handled by The Mabyn Kean Agency staff doing whatever legwork was needed. The parade caught on quickly as Baton Rouge fully embraced the new longer route. However, it was not popular with everyone. The parade had a handful of folks who wanted it moved out of the Hundred Oaks residential area during one controversial 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. This is a photo of the couple at the 2004 parade.
The Parade Group, LLC was formed to consolidate activities. Managerially, the parade was organized, coordinated and run by Pat Shingleton, Grey Hammett and Mabyn Shingleton. Dennis Shingleton, of Fort Worth, TX, assisted with the Band Lineup until Michael Shingleton succeeded him. Mabyn’s efforts are supplemented by Katie Shingleton now. Greyson, Morgan and Brennan Hammett assist Grey Hammett in the days before, during and after the parade.
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!
This site will continue to search out good Irish organizations and provide links to them. We are interested in your input and ideas.
route & about....
Since 1986, the Wearin’ of the Green Parade has rolled through the beautiful Hundred Oaks Area of Baton Rouge. Started by Pat Shingleton, the event features numerous bands (both Irish and Marching), dignitaries, a Grand Marshal, and lots of floats. We invite old and young. We ride rain or shine.