Hilton Head St. Patrick's Day parade avoids bad weather, draws big crowds

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comMarch 16, 2014 

  • Celebrating St. Pat's in Savannah?

    190th Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade

    • When: 10:15 a.m. Monday
    • Where: Begins at Abercorn and Gwinnett streets and ends at the corner of Bull and Harris streets
    • Cost: Bleacher seats on Abercorn, Bay and Bull streets are $25 in advance or $30 the day of the parade. Special-event parking prices range from $5 to $20.
    • Details: savannahsaintpatricksday.com

As far as the weather goes, Hilton Head Island certainly had the luck of the Irish on Sunday.

With the threat of rain hanging overhead most of the day, the 31st Annual Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day Parade went on without any weather-related issues. The 111 parade entries followed their route under cloudy but clear skies, with a light rain developing only after the parade had ended.

"We were calling on our Irish luck for the weather to hold up," parade committee member Lynne Hummell said.

Roughly 25,000 people took in the parade along Pope Avenue and Office Park Road, Hummell said. Entries in the parade included founder Tom Reilley, politicians Sen. Lindsey Graham and state Sen. Tom Davis, the Parris Island Band, and many other groups and organizations.

One of the more unique entries in the parade was a limosuine that doubled as a prom invite for two Hilton Head High School students, Michael Head and Marina Karis. The limosuine, which had a large green and gold "Prom?" hanging on the side, was sponsored by Head's parents, the owners of H&H Auto Service, Hummell said.

Parade committee members handed out stickers emblazoned with "Dr. Love Child," in honor of parade grand marshal Dr. G. Neil Love, who founded the island's first obstetrics ward in 1983 -- the first year the parade was held.

The Wilkins family -- parents Herb and Whitney; daughters Izzy, 13, Gracen, 12, Olivia, 8, and Eden, 4; and grandfather Herb Sr. -- watched the parade from a spot on the Pope Avenue median. The prime location helped Olivia and Eden collect two large bags of candy from parade passers-by.

Izzy and Gracen Wilkins said their favorite float was the inflatable body suits in Kidz Play & Party Rentals entry, although they had a dream suggestion for next year: Justin Bieber. Olivia Wilkins liked an animal-themed entry the most.

"My favorite one was the dogs from the (Hilton Head) Humane Society," she said. "A puppy ran right up to me."

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford and fiancee Maria Belen Chapur also were in attendance Sunday. Sanford said it was the first time he had taken in the Hilton Head parade.

"I was expecting a whole lot of people to be celebrating the spirit of the Irish today," he said. "Everybody is Irish today. There were some impressive get-ups here."

Celebrations were much tamer than at last year's parade, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office spokesman. Only two tickets -- both for minors in possession of alcohol -- were issued, Lt. Jason Covington said, compared with 16 tickets in 2013.

Covington said one person was arrested during the parade after stealing a purse from a booth at Wild Wing Cafe. Sheriff's deputies also responded to New York City Pizza for an assault and battery call after a shoving match, but no injuries were reported, Covington said.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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