Two weekends, two parades. For the second year in a row, floats, marchers and vehicles will be on display as Estero Island comes alive with the spirit of St. Patrick's Day one day earlier.
The 15th annual Town of Fort Myers Beach St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place Saturday, March 16, with a 10 a.m. start at Santini Marina Plaza. This procession follows last Saturday's 55th annual Beach Lions Shrimp Festival Parade.
Those interested in participating in the Luck O' The Irish parade on the south end of Estero Island are asked to gather in the plaza parking lot between 8:30 and 9 a.m.
Former Beach Mayor and known Irishman Ray Murphy is once again the parade chairman. He noted donations to help with costs would be accepted. No other changes from the yearly format are expected.
"The format is pretty much the same," he said. "There are only two kinds of people in the world on that day -the Irish and those that want to be."
Traffic will be stopped from the plaza to Lanark Street north of the "S" curve at roughly 9:50 a.m. Murphy said the procession would end at the Church of the Ascension parking lot at approximately 11 a.m.
"We'll be marching north on Estero Boulevard one mile to the church parking lot," said Murphy. "Since traffic is stopped on the boulevard for that one hour, residents should plan ahead if they need to leave the island that morning."
After the parade, Murphy said Knights of Columbus members would be selling corned beef and cabbage sandwiches, hot dogs and refreshments in the church parking lot.
If you didn't have enough of the shrimp festival parade, this is another opportunity to march, ride in a float or watch from the sidewalks. Just be sure to wear something green.
A Saturday parade, while not on the March 17, seems to be the most festive way to go.
"We expect to have a bigger turnout since it is a Saturday and all the school kids are out," said Murphy. "So come early and get a place along the boulevard to watch the parade."
Like most St. Patty's Day parades of past years, Murphy said one can expect to see color guards, floats, musical bands and civic, business, neighborhood groups as well as the Lee County Pipe and Drum Corps involved in the ceremonial occasion which honors Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
For more information, questions or late entrants, contact Murphy at his business at 591-8803 before Friday at 5 p.m.
"We are hoping everybody comes out and has a good time on St. Patrick's Day. This is a nice, little way to celebrate St. Patrick," he said.