St. Patrick: Hobdy honored to reign over Krewe of Killarney

Published 11:03 am Friday, March 8, 2024

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NATCHEZ — At first glance, Tate Hobdy doesn’t look very much like an Irishman or a leprechaun with his tall stature, dark hair and olive complexion.

However, once he adorns his green top hat to become 2024 Natchez St. Patrick in the Krewe of Killarney’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one can almost see the Irish in him as it brings out the flush of red in his cheeks.

“Honestly, I don’t know how much Irish I have in me. But for at least two days out of the year, I’m 100 percent Irish,” Hobdy said.

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Saturday, March 9, marks the first of those two days each year Hobdy becomes Irish.

The Krewe of Killarney’s annual  St. Patrick’s Party and Auction is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Father David O’Connor Family Life Center and is hosted by St. Patrick XXXII Tom Graning.

During the party, the Shillelagh will be passed from St. Patrick XXXII Graning to reigning St. Patrick XXXIII Hobdy.  The live auction begins around 7 p.m. and includes an array of goodies, some of them with Irish themes and perhaps a bottle of Guinness, Hobdy said.

Proceeds from the auction and membership fees help Pleasant Acre Day School and Natchez Children’s Advocacy Center and award a $500 scholarship to a deserving senior from each of the area high schools, including one each from Adams County Christian School, Natchez High School, and Cathedral High School and one from Concordia Parish.

The second day Hobdy becomes Irish is next Saturday, March 16, during the annual St. Patricks Day parade down Main Street. Like the party this Saturday, anyone can join the parade. Just put on your favorite green outfit, purchase your beads from Pleasant Acre Day School and join the gathering on Main Street by Memorial Park and St. Mary’s Basilica beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Tate Hobdy visited Adare Manor in Ireland on a business trip in 2019. (Submitted)

Hobdy actually visited Ireland once before on a business trip in 2019 and plans to go again a few short weeks after participating in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, he said.

During his first trip, he traveled from the capital city Dublin to stay in Adare Manor, an Irish Castle, to Blarney Stone.

In April, Hobdy and his family will again visit Dublin and also Killarney, for which Natchez’s Krewe of Killarney is named.

“It’s very green and temperate there,” he said. “(Adare) is the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in, bar none. We talked to a lot of Irish pub owners and they’re a talkative group and super nice with a jolly disposition. It will be cool to recreate that experience after having been St. Patrick. It doesn’t get more Irish than that.”

Hobdy has worn many hats in the Natchez community before he picked up a green one.

He is the managing co-owner of Stephens & Hobdy Insurance Agency and the owner and operator of the Natchez Dairy Queen since 2019.

Having grown up in Natchez, Hobdy is a graduate of Cathedral and played goalkeeper on the Green Wave soccer team. He moved off to attend Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and moved around as a rock-climbing and backpacking instructor.

He later earned his pilot’s license in Charleston, South Carolina, before returning to Natchez in 2009 to join the family insurance business.

Besides his profession, Hobdy is also a volunteer in many positions.

He is a member of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce and a Male Natchezian of the Year award winner. He was the volunteer chairman of the Natchez Adams County Recreation Committee for nine years and was instrumental in helping bring a disc golf course and public pool to the Natchez community.

He is also a long-time volunteer and board member of the Natchez Rotary Club, the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, the First Miss-Lou Work Ready Community, the YMCA of Jackson and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and Project Clean Up Natchez.

Additionally, he is a husband to Abby and a stepfather to 16-year-old Tristan.

Hobdy said it’s an honor to fall in the footsteps of the previous St. Patricks like former Mayor Tony Byrne, the late state Sen. Bob Dearing.

“It’s a cool organization and serves a good purpose,” Hobdy said.

As St. Patrick, Hobdy plans to wear a green velvet tuxedo instead of the traditional priest garb and his green top hat while carrying the official Shillelagh, a clublike walking stick.

Anyone, whether Irish by blood or only Irish at heart, can join Krewe of Killarney for a $20 membership fee per individual or $30 per family.

Hobdy said he hasn’t been a member himself for as long as some.

“Tony Byrne helped me get involved a couple of years ago and it has been a lot of fun,” he said, adding Krewe of Killarney is more laid back than most Mardi Gras Krewes with only three events a year.

The third is a business meeting where attendance is not mandatory.

On Saturday, March 16, Hobdy will lead the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is done entirely on foot from Memorial Park down Main Street to the Natchez Bluff.

As is tradition, Hobdy will cast all the snakes of Natchez from the bluff to the Mississippi River, or in that general direction.

“I’m thankful to all of the volunteers who bestowed this honor on me and hope that I can live up to the image,” he said.