Celebrating 30 years of Wearin' Green
BATON ROUGE - Preparations are underway for Baton Rouge's annual Wearin' of the Green Parade. It will hit the streets of the Capital City Saturday morning for the 30th time.
Over time, it has grown from a trailer with some hay and a few hundred parade-goers to 150,000 people from all over the world lining the streets. A pair of families that lead the way each year couldn't ask for anything more.
In 1986, the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl, the movie 'Top Gun' was coming to theatres, Mr. Mister's "Kyrie" topped Billboard's charts and News 2's John Pastorek still rocked a killer mustache.
It was also the first year for the Wearin' of the Green St. Patrick's Day Parade in Baton Rouge, lead by News 2's own Pat Shingleton.
"It was a walking deal," he reminisced. "We had a couple of convertibles and a dance group, and then Grey Hammett stepped-in."
Grey Hammet's family was one of the first involved in the parade. He bought an antique fire truck for his family to ride on. Three decades and three restorations later, you can still see it rolling along at the end of the parade.
"In the early days, we would say, 'Are we nuts?" he told News 2's Kylie Dixon. "We are writing checks out of our pockets to bring this parade to Baton Rouge. That's when I said, 'I'm going to plug a business plan into this thing".
Since then, it's become an economic boom for the city and raised thousands for charities, but Grey says it is about more than just the money.
"When I ride this route, (I) look at the joy this parade brings to them," Grey said aboard the old, red fire truck. "it's overwhelming to see how much fun and how many people. The satisfaction I get from seeing the faces on these folks is indescribable.
"The other thing about this is the recognition of the patron saint of Ireland," he explains. "This thing starts with a blessing from Bishop (Robert) Muench...for all the Irish have done to contribute to the state of Louisiana."
When you talk to Pat and Grey, their passion shines through, especially about their kids who are now adults having kids of their own. The dynamic duo says that's what the Wearin' of the Green is all about.
In addition to this being the 30th anniversary, this year is also special because Grey is the Grand Marshal.
Watch this video to hear what Pat and Grey believe is in store for the next 30 years.
They also wanted to thank they wives of taking care of things behind the scenes and remind everyone to have a very fun, but safe, St. Patrick's Day celebration.