Cub Scout Brandt Walston was giddy at the prospect of handing out candy and promotional cards to the spectators decked in green and white along the route of Hilton Head Island's 27th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday.
The 9-year-old, a third-grader at Hilton Head Island International Baccalaureate Elementary School, proudly displayed the four-leaf clover handkerchief holder he madefor the parade, which drew at least 20,000 spectators, according to event co-chairman Rocky O'Sheill.
The parade included 12 commercial floats and 125 entries from around the area and was led by grand marshal Charles Perry, voice of the 9th green spectator area at the Verizon Heritage golf tournament.
"I'm happy that we put on a successful parade and that people had fun," said O'Sheill, who has been a parade organizer for more than 25 years. "When all is said and done, the committee has done its job."
Five float awards, including the Shamrock Award and the Irish Heritage Award, were presented by the committee judges to the top floats. This year's Grand Marshal Award went to the island's Wexford Plantation for its "Wexford Goes Green" float, an entry manned by neighborhood children, said Sue Minter, president of the community's homeowners association.
"It's an unbelievable island event that we're proud to take part in," Minter said.
Volunteers and riders from Heroes on Horseback led a 4-year-old miniature horse through the parade as she whinnied to the delight of children in the crowd. This is the first year the nonprofit organization participated in the event, said program director Peggy Noon.
"We're really excited to be able to show off our kids and our program," she said.
Freshman and sophomores from a Hilton Head Island High School college preparatory class showed off a homemade float entitled "Hands Around the World," an entry teacher Terri Betris said displays the course's main tenet -- determination.
"The class represents students who have the potential to go to college but may not have the opportunity for various reason," Betris said. "The float is something they worked on themselves."
Even Hilton Head Mayor Tom Peeples got into the act, as he marched the parade route while handing out candy and trinkets promoting the 2010 U.S. Census.
Beaufort County sheriff's deputies also walked the parade route to deter rowdy spectators, but no major incidents had been reported to duty officers by 8 p.m., Lt. Jim Walton said.
Several bars and restaurants near the route held outdoor parties for spectators before and after the event.
Janice Medcalf and her husband, Pete, residents of Ontario, Canada who vacation on the island, said they haven't missed a parade in eight years.
"We never miss it," she said. "We love it here, and we love the parade."