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A year with no St. Patrick’s Day Parade grand marshal

FILE - A previous Grand Marshal during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah.
FILE - A previous Grand Marshal during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah.(WTOC)
Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Since the first Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1824, there have been extraordinary times when officials had to cancel the parade, and this is unfortunately another one of those times.

But officials are hopeful next year we will be able to gather again to celebrate the Irish faith, families, and traditions in Savannah.

There is nothing like St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah and nothing quite like our Grand Parade. Each year, you see one person chosen as Savannah’s Top Irishman - The Grand Marshal. But this year, because they knew well in advance there was going to be no parade, no Grand Marshal was selected.

“We are part of a community that’s going through something a lot bigger than what we are, and what we do. So being a part of the community we knew it was going to have some effects on us, too. While it is sad we are not having one, we know it’s something we have to be a part of and do the right thing,” St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee General Chairman John Fogarty said.

“The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee was devasted by not being able to do anything this year, but safety comes first,” Adjutant Mike Roush, Jr. said.

Last year, Mike Roush, Sr. had the honor of being the Savannah Parade Grand Marshal. He was the center of attention at most events leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, but the big day never came because the parade was canceled just days before it was set to step off. Sadly, for him, it is an honor that does not carry over to another year.

“I have to say he probably dealt with it better than I would have. My father has always been a person of class and high standards, he understands what happened, obviously, his disappointment is huge,” Roush, Jr. said.

It was the first time since World War II that no parade was held in Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day. This year is the same. “The parade committee doesn’t own any restaurants or hotels or bed and breakfasts in downtown Savannah. We don’t have any businesses down here, but we know what we do that what we put on does affect those things, so for us not to be able to do that it hurts right, it hurts us, and it hurts the community,” Fogarty said.

But as this year’s St. Patrick’s Day ceremonies go virtual, the parade committee sees brighter days ahead.

“When we come back in 2022, I want the streets to be filled, I want people excited, cheers as loud as they can, and think about all the things that we missed, and think about the reasons why we do what we do. and be happy that we are getting back to where we are.”

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