Procession to the Celtic Cross - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/12/06

Procession to the Celtic Cross

Children carry the flags on the procession to the Celtic Cross. Children carry the flags on the procession to the Celtic Cross.

In just a few days, Savannah's Irish will welcome hundreds of thousands to Savannah for the city's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. On Sunday, they held a celebration just for themselves: the annual procession to the Celtic Cross.

The thousands of people who will pour into Savannah this weekend will understand the bands. They'll understand the floats. They'll certainly understand the beauty queens; however, they'll struggle with the meaning of the clusters of green jackets smiling and waving to the crowd. That group IS the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

On Sunday, the green jackets went for a test drive to commemorate their ancestors by marching through the old Irish neighborhoods to the great Celtic Cross. They started with Mass in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist where Anthony Thomas Ryan heard the sweetest sound ever to fall on Savannah Irish ears, the thunder of approval accorded to the Grand Marshal of the Saint Patrick's Day Parade. They marched to Abercorn Street, then north to the old fort homes of their Irish fore bearers and to the great river where Emmett Park was their playground.

"Please give me the strength to know that the mind can only absorb what the rear can endure and the wisdom to understand that there's a reception afterwards," stated Savannahian Pat Rossiter to the crowd.

Rossiter spoke of strong Irish women and of a park framed by Bay Street, encircled by an authentic brick roadway called Rossiter Circle.

This year's parade Grand Marshal, Tony Ryan, paid homage to those who came before by placing a wreath at the great Cross and calling on a higher power to ensure the success of the 2006 parade.

"Father, can you ensure this weather for Friday?" he asked Father O'Brien. "Raise your hand."

Reported by: Craig Harney, charney@wtoc.com

Make plans now to spend your St. Patrick's Day with WTOC. It all starts at 8 a.m. Friday with the live broadcast of the St. Patrick's Day Mass. To learn more about Savannah's St. Patrick's Day celebration, click on the green shamrock at the top of our homepage.

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