St. Patrick’s Day Parade may mimic white Christmas

The shamrocks might be covered in a dusting of white 81 days after those who dreamed of a white Christmas got their wish.

Just as Christmas Eve brought the area a covering of snow, snowflakes could fall again in the city streets in time for the second annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in State College.

As luck would have it, not even the meteorologist who spoke with the Sun-Gazette Wednesday afternoon could say for sure whether it’ll rain on pots of gold or fill them with snow.

“Temperatures are going to be borderline whether it’s rain or snow,” said Craig Evanego, a forecaster at the center looking at the cold front sweeping into the region from the northern plains.

No matter what Mother Nature brings, leprechauns will dance in the streets and green beer will be on tap.

“Even if it is snow, a lot of times when it falls in mid-March, it is difficult to accumulate because of the sun’s angle, but it depends on whether the storm arrives Friday night and the timing,” he said. “If it comes in Friday night, it could stick a little.”

The culprit is a strong cold front sweeping into the region late Friday night, bringing a 50-percent chance of either rain or snow showers, Evanego explained.

Spectators of the parade, which begins at 11 a.m. at the corner of West Fourth and Campbell streets and moves eastward down West Fourth to Market Street, won’t need snow boots no matter what conditions strike.

“It’ll probably be more wet,” Evanego said.

Parade organizer Brenda Everett and the parade committee assured people watching and taking part in the day-long events will have a day of memories and shared Irish spirit – no matter the weather.

Everett listed a few of the expected participants in this year’s parade. Among them are the Mounted State Police Color Guard based in Harrisburg, bagpipe bands and solo bagpipers hitting the high notes and former city Mayor Michael R. Rafferty, who served from 2000 to 2004 and who will lead the procession as parade grand marshal.

New to the parade is a community challenge, Everett said. It’s a $1,000 prize awarded to the “Most Spirited” entry’s charity of choice.

Once again, giant floating balloons, including a shamrock and Happy O’ Lucky the Leprechaun, are expected to make appearances.

High school bands, city and local firefighters on engines, vintage cars and men on stilts also have wowed the crowds in the past and are expected to be in the procession.

Following the parade, a pub and restaurant tour is open to the public, with as many as 20 establishments serving traditional Irish food, drink specials and offering entertainment throughout the day and night.

Free trolleys will run from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.