Green, with a twist

Mother Nature must have leprechaun blood in her veins. She was ice-cold and ready for tricks on Saturday morning.

Steady wet snow covered Williamsport’s West Fourth Street in white just as the second annual St. Patrick’s Day parade kicked-off at 11 a.m.

Many of the hundreds of spectators seemed to be caught off-guard. If they weren’t bundled up, they got chilly real quick, but most were prepared.

The forecast was predicted by Craig Evanego, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College, and he was on the money, as the snow didn’t start to fall until the marchers were headed east from their stepping-off at Campbell Street.

Parade Grand Marshal Michael R. Rafferty welcomed nature’s show.

“How about this green snow – it’s beautiful,” said Rafferty, mayor of the city from 2000 to 2004.

“Special effects” was how Roseann Harmon, of Berwick, described the precipitation as she held onto a bowl of soup.

“It was a lot nicer last year,” she said.

Indeed, the normal temperature for the day is 46 degrees, with a record high of 76 degrees set in 1990.

Last year, marchers wore traditional green, white and orange short-sleeve shirts. They basked in the sun as the procession displayed traditional colors of Ireland’s flag for the first time.

The chilly temperatures on the second go-around didn’t dissuade Dylann MacLean Scampone, 12, of South Williamsport, from viewing the parade.

With a first and middle name like that, he came to hear the distinct wailing sounds of bagpipers.

“It makes you move,” said Scampone, whose ancestry is a blend of Irish and Italian.

When asked by a reporter what a leprechaun was, Scampone didn’t hesitate to answer: “It’s a tiny guy dressed in all green with a pot of gold.”

There were plenty of those marching, along with bagpipers and people sporting their Notre Dame sweatshirts, in honor of the holiday and their favorite college team.

The audience roared as Penn York Highlanders, a bagpipe band established in 1956 from Athens hit the high notes and returned the favor as the Nittany Highland Pipe Band followed soon after. The color guard of the Mounted State Police of Harrisburg was solemn while the sound of horses’ hooves hitting the pavement could be heard.

The crowd cheered when West Branch School students stopped by the judge’s area and danced a jig, kicking their legs up high and swirling their bodies in traditional Irish dance.

They waved as the Ancient Order of Hiberians John Patrick Maloney division marchers walked by and the already-dressed-for-the-occasion Hughesville High School Spartans Marching Band – with green and white dress colors – performed.

Spectators grooved to the sounds of “Bloody Sunday,” a U2 smash that described the less than happy day in Ireland’s history and a day of violence, and they joined a man familiar with all things transportation in Lycoming County, who used a megaphone to drum-up some excitement for St. Paddy’s Day as leader of the Leprechaun Brigade.

Emergency services vehicles and various department heads also showed the crowd their support.

Dugout, the Little League mascot, made an appearance, dressed in a green and yellow; horse-draw vehicles passed by; a man who was the “big wheel” rode a fancy bicycle seen in the early 1900s; and a dude on stilts gave the little ones someone to look up to.

The “most spirited” parade entry was determined by five judges, who will announce the winner Monday. Judges were Cindy Perry, of Clear Channel Radio; Justin Simpson, city recreation director; Connie Tobias, of the Sun-Gazette; Mallory Williams, a college student and parade committee intern; and Mark Shuman, of Clear Channel.

The winner will donate a $1,000 prize to the charity of their choice.