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Take a stroll down memory lane with the very first Wearin' of the Green Parade
BATON ROUGE - It began humbly 37 years ago. Now, the Wearin' of the Green parade is a Baton Rouge staple.
"It began at a place called The Merchant, which use to be Zee Zee Gardens, which used to be a pub that our family had," explained Pat Shingleton, the parade's founder. "My brother Kevin and I, being from Pittsburg, experienced what was going on in western Pennsylvania back then. We tried to replicate a little Irish pub into Zee Zee's back then. And I think in a lot of ways it was very successful. I resurrected the Irish Club of Baton Rouge. And then at the same time I said to Kevin, 'Hey Kev, I'm going to get this parade back on.'"
The first Wearin' of the Green parade hit the streets in 1986. Originally planned as a walking parade, it grew to include antique cars, twirlers, and the unusual.
"We had one time, the Spanish Town parade had this lawnmower brigade, and these guys did this synchronized lawnmower thing with these push lawnmowers. It was hilarious. We didn't have a lot of exposure to the parade. So, we had posters made up and we were tacking posters onto the telephone poles on Perkins Road on the overpass, encouraging people we were going to have a parade," Shingleton said. "I call it the Wearin' of the Green because of the uprising that occurred in Ireland back during the the revolution. And there's a tune that everyone is aware of, the name of that is the 'Wearin' of the Green.'"
The parade exploded in popularity during the '90s and added several safety features, including 'walkers' on the sides of floats.
It's grown bigger and better every year since.
"Years have gone by and we've had the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, we had Mr. Peanut, and now we're throwing this big gigantic potato in there. And what is St. Patrick's Day without potatoes and corned beef and cabbage. But hey, where would we be without a potato. That's the parade, enjoy the day and I think that's how St. Patrick wants it," Shingleton said.
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