Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day parade Sunday

tbarton@islandpacket.comMarch 9, 2012 

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Get ready for a sea of green. Hilton Head Island turns into the emerald isle Sunday for the 29th Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Several hundred marchers from high schools, college and the military will be on hand to entertain the crowd.

Among the musical groups will be the Parris Island Marine Corps Band and the Charleston Police Pipers, parade co-chairwoman Kim Capin said.

School children and adoptable dogs will join leprechauns, firetrucks and commercial floats and nonprofit organizations. Shriners from across the state will entertain with their funny cars and pirate ship, Capin said.

Grand Marshal Tom Peeples, former island mayor, will lead the parade in a white Rolls Royce convertible, followed by local, state and federal dignitaries.

"And you'll see crazy costumes: People painted green, green mohawks, shamrock shades, orange hair," Capin said. "There's a lot of craziness every year. It's a festive occasion. You don't have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick's Day. It just brings everyone together."

This year's parade is dedicated to long-time parade volunteer and committee member Betty Dirosse, who died unexpectedly last year.

"She was very Irish and truly loved the parade, especially the bagpipers. She had a pretty crazy costume every year," Capin said. "She was just a very gentle, kind person."

The parade is expected to last about two hours. The procession begins at 3 p.m. at the parking lot at 102 Pope Ave. near Coligny Circle and ends at Park Plaza, 33 Office Park Drive.

More than 20,000 spectators are expected. They may stand anywhere along the parade route and are encouraged to find a spot early.

Vendors also will serve from designated areas where beer and wine may be purchased and consumed, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. Identification will be required. Liquor will only be allowed inside bars and restaurants.

"As always, everyone is reminded to drink responsibly and make appropriate arrangements for safe transportation," Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh said.

Parking for spectators may be difficult to find. Some shopping centers and churches might allow parking. Carpooling is suggested, Capin said.

No parking will be allowed on either side of the parade route. Traffic delays can be expected in the areas surrounding the route before, during and after the event. The Sheriff's Office suggests drivers avoid these areas until after 5 p.m. to limit congestion.

The south side of Pope Avenue will be closed to traffic about an hour before the parade begins. Nonparade traffic can continue to use the north side.

Parents are asked to keep a close watch on small children to prevent them from entering the parade route, and participants have been prohibited from throwing candy or other prizes from the floats, to discourage children from running into the roadway.

Details: Call Kim Capin at 843-384-4035, Rocky O'Sheill at 843-837-4956 or go to www.stpatricksdayhhi.com.

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