DECATUR — The luck of the Irish seems to be shining on the annual downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year.
“Everything’s coming together,” said organizer Jim Wrigley of the Knights of Columbus. “It’s an election year, so there will be lots of politicians marching in the parade, and although we usually hold the parade the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, we got lucky this year because St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday.”
The parade, sponsored by Decatur’s Knights of Columbus, will begin at 11 a.m. March 17 at the Ameren Illinois Power Plaza and will follow the traditional route of north on Franklin Street, west and then south on Main, and back to its starting point.
The day’s events also will include the annual “Run to Lock Stock,” which will precede the parade and have participants running from the plaza toward the Millikin University campus and Lock Stock & Barrel.
Wrigley said he’s anticipating a big turnout this year.
“Right now, I have about 51 (parade) entries and there’s always room for more,” said Wrigley. “I think everybody’s ready to get outside and kick off spring.”
Avon Theater owner Skip Huston said he’s honored to be the parade’s grand marshal.
“I’m at the Avon most of the time, so it’ll be nice to get out and see people in the community,” Huston said. “I’m excited.”
Although the Irish event won’t include bagpipers this year, Wrigley said the Decatur Derby Dames and Prairieland Punishers roller derby groups will be in the parade and St. Patrick himself will make an ap-pearance.
“The man who portrays him is known in town and I’m not supposed to say who he is,” said Wrigley, “but he often looks like Santa Claus.”
After the parade, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration will continue at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 520 North St., with food, drinks, music and family activities.
“We’ll have corned beef reubens, hot dogs, brats, river fries, soft drinks and green beer,” Wrigley said. “It’s a lot of family fun.”
Parade entries will be accepted through March 14.
“It’s free to be in the parade,” Wrigley said. “All you need to do is be dressed in green and bring some candy to hand out. It’s a lot of fun, and this year, I want to dedicate the parade to my mother, Marillyn.”