Krewe of Killarney hosts St. Patrick’s Day parade

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 18, 2010

NATCHEZ — There may have been a few Scotsmen in the mix, but Natchez showed its Irish pride Wednesday during the annual Krewe of Killarney St. Patrick’s Day parade.

With an Irish flag-bearer leading the way, a mass of green-clad Natchezians made their way through downtown to celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Patrick was kidnapped as a teenager and sold to work as a slave swineherd in Ireland, where he learned the language. He eventually escaped, but later returned as a missionary, and is credited with much of the work that led to the eventual Christianization of the island nation.

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Irish immigrants brought St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to the United States, and today the celebrations are generally considered to be a celebration of Irish heritage.

Parade participants threw green coins and beads, and onlookers proudly displayed their “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirts.

Natchezian Fred Ferguson said he hasn’t missed a parade since the Krewe started 20 years ago.

And while many of the parade participants were Irish, Ferguson said it wasn’t a requirement.

“We take Italians, French, anyone,” he said.

The parade is really just a chance to get together and have a good time, said Martha Branyan, who is not of Irish heritage.

“Something like this is just fun,” she said.

And that was something with which Dick Walcott agreed.

“Any opportunity we have to get together and have fun, we take,” he said.

“We celebrate St. Joseph Day, too.”

The Krewe of Killarney, like the Mardi Gras krewes that precede it, raises money for local schools, Pleasant Acre Day School and Holy Family School, Krewe of Killarney President Kelly Ditzler said.

“It started after a Mardi Gras parade with the Krewe of Phoenix, some of the folks with Krewe of Phoenix were looking for something to do and decided to organize and start a St. Patrick’s Day parade,” Ditzler said.

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, the day the saint died in 461.