The grand marshal for the parade will be “The American Soldier,” represented by service members from nearby U.S. Army Fort Jackson in Columbia.
March 11. 2 p.m. (Kids Zone open from 12-2 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.) Free. Main Street, Lexington. blowfishbaseball.com.
A symbolic grand marshall, a festive lifetime achievement honor for an iconic local voice, and an expanded area for kids.
These were the big March 1 announcements made ahead of the eighth annual Shamrock Parade, which will roll through downtown Lexington on March 11. The particulars for the perennially popular event were revealed during a packed community luncheon hosted by parade presenter, the Lexington County Blowfish.
The grand marshal for the baseball team’s 2023 St. Patrick’s Day parade will be “The American Soldier,” represented by service members from nearby U.S. Army Fort Jackson in Columbia.
“Nearly 200 of a battalion are coming to be in our parade,” Blowfish co-owner Bill Shanahan announced.
On hand to speak on behalf of Fort Jackson was Command Sergeant Maj. Philson Tavernier, who talked about the importance of such community outreach events for the installation, which is the Army’s largest combat training hub, graduating nearly 45,000 trainees annually.
“We’re a key part of this community,” he said, noting that personnel who work on the base are spread throughout the Midlands, from the Lexington area to right outside the gates a little more than 20 miles away.
“We truly look forward to getting outside of the gates of Fort Jackson to meet and engage and have conversations.”
Joe “Mr. Knozit” Pinner receives the festive honor, getting what Shanahan called the team’s first lifetime community achievement award, as the former TV anchor and children’s show host and now frequent Blowfish MC and supporter, will participate in the parade as “Mr. Shamrock.”
“He will be in the throne seat of the float waving like a prince or princess,” Shanahan said. “God bless you for all you’ve done. We love you and just want to show our appreciation.”
As he’s done countless times before, Pinner then led the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Jonathon Rush, host of “The Morning Rush” on 97.5 WCOS and another frequent face at Blowfish events, will take the role that Pinner has filled in the past, MC-ing the parade.
The imprint of the event is set to expand this year with the addition of the aforementioned kids area. O’Hara’s Public House, an epicenter on the day for those who enjoy their St. Pat’s festivities accompanied by a frosty beer, is presenting an option for those families who would rather hang out elsewhere. The free Shamrock Festival Kids Zone under the pavilion at the Icehouse Amphitheater will feature a bounce house, rock climbing wall, face painting, balloon animals and more.
“We're going to keep our serving of the green beer to O'Hara's Public House so that the kids can come out with their families and have a big time and not be a part of the other side of that,” said Matt O’Hara, co-owner of the pub. “When I was bringing my young kids to St. Patty's Day stuff, we just always kind of wondered, ‘Why does it have to be like this?’ So we're gonna try to do something that really is very much in line with this celebration of family and community.”
Shanahan also emphasized the family-friendly nature of the event, saying their intention is not to be a “big drunk fest” like some other St. Pat’s events.
But, as O’Hara said, there will be green beer, with his pub serving up a colored brew prepared by Hazelwood Brewing Company, located just down Main Street in the Lexington’s Old Mill, and giving 10% of the proceeds to Mission Lexington.
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