Hard work, not luck of the Irish, will bring Providence man full circle this St. Patrick’s Day

By Brittni Henderson

Patrick Griffin came a long way from his hometown in Althone County Westmeath, Ireland to Providence in the early 1990’s. He stumbled upon an abandoned bar on Smith Street and decided to create a hub for Irish culture in Rhode Island—now known as Patrick’s Pub. Around the same time, the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade had lapsed for a few years, so with the help of some friends and family, he revived the centuries-old tradition. With the help of the parade committee, Griffin has brought the parade to Smith Hill, rain or shine, for over 25 years.

This year, the parade is on as scheduled—March 9th to be exact. The date is important as to not interfere with the parades of neighboring communities. For years, the first Saturday of March has belonged to Pawtucket. Providence comes next as long as there is one more weekend before March 17th. This year, the Newport parade falls on March 16th.

There are over 100 groups marching in the city’s procession this year, a number that has grown steadily since Griffin’s inaugural year. As Parade Committee President, Griffin is ecstatic that so many community members, organizations, and individuals will be participating this year. As usual, the day kicks off with a 5K-road race, which leads directly into the noontime start of the parade.

This year’s Grand Marshal is Michael Kelly and the Deputy Grand Marshal is Michael Dillon. The year of the “Mikes,” joked Griffin. These two gentlemen were chosen for their positions for their Irish heritage, support for the community, and most importantly their positive involvement in the successful growth of Providence. The Grand Marshal chooses where the funds raised at the preliminary dinner will be donated, and this year it is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church food pantry.

Since the early 1990’s, Griffin says that the committee has raised over $50,000 for the Providence community. It is very important to him to ensure that the parade isn’t only about Ireland, but instead the cultures coming together to celebrate together. There is also approximately 1,500 lbs of corned beef ready to be consumed. The excitement is looming!

After the parade comes to a close, the fun usually continues until the sunsets on March 17th. This year, Griffin has the great honor of being the Honorary Grand Marshall of the parade in his hometown of Althone for St. Patrick’s Day. Griffin and about 30 others from Rhode Island and Massachusetts will be marching with the American Division of the parade. This is the first time Griffin was named Grand Marshal in his hometown, and although he will miss the holiday with his Providence crew, he is overjoyed to be able to revisit his hometown in such a memorable way.

The road closures for the Providence St. Patrick’s Day parade will begin around 10 am on March 9th. Parking will be available on side streets and there will be shuttles bringing parade goers from the State House to the parade route throughout the day.

For more information on the parade, visit www.providencestpatricksparade.org.