Winning float takes hard work, lucky squirrel

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It takes a lot to get ready for Savannah's St.Patrick's Day Parade, especially for those who enter floats. One group has been making it their mission to build award winning floats, year after year.

It ain't easy being green for folks at St. Joseph's Candler. "Put the two poles, there, and there," directed one volunteer.

But this special group manages to do it year after year. This year's theme: Milestones in Time. It's a celebration of significant events in the Irish heritage, and at the St. Joseph's Candler Hospital system. "It takes a long time to really perfect a theme," explained Debbie Shumans. "We come up with an idea, and we have to find a way to convey that idea in about a 60 second pass through town."

The ideas started back in 1994, when St. Joseph Candler started entering floats in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. They've won an award for their creativity every year since. "We've had chirping birds, we've had lambs, what else have we had?" asked volunteer, Beverly Britt. "Oh! We've had whales, and dolphins. All kinds of fun things!"

And then there's the St. Joseph Candler "lucky" squirrel. "Oh! the squirrel! Oh my goodness!" exclaimed Beverly. "The squirrel has been around for a long time. It's kind of one of our mascots!"

So far, the squirrel has been on every float that's won an award. "It doesn't often appear to go in with any theme we have, but it's sort of like our little "good luck" squirrel," explained Debbie. "It's kind of like 'Where's Waldo?' It's 'Where's the squirrel?'"

But the volunteers say their winning strategy isn't about what they put on their float, but about who brings it all together. It's decorated by current, and retired, St. Joseph Candler employees. "We have a good time," said Beverly. "We get to see people sometimes that we don't see all year long. We see them out here, working on the float. It always comes together well, because everybody brings a little bit to the table."

A tradition, they hope, will continue for years to come.

St. Joseph's Candler wants to see if you can find their lucky squirrel in tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day parade. Just go to their Facebook page for more information.

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