DOVER — James G. McGiffin Jr. has done a lot of things in his life, such as served as a Family Court judge in Kent County, been a Dover city councilman and performed with the Dover Symphony, among several other pursuits.
However, there is one thing that he has never done that will change on Saturday — be the grand marshal of a parade.
Mr. McGiffin just laughs and attributes his latest honor to his deep-rooted Irish name.
“Oh, I’ve never been a grand marshal before, this is my debut,” Mr. McGiffin said. “It was a big surprise. I thought I had managed to stay away from public recognition, but maybe they figured with my name, why not?”
He will serve as the grand marshal of Saturday’s Dover St. Patrick’s Day Parade, presented by the Downtown Dover Partnership.
The 20th edition of the parade will begin at 1 p.m. It will start at the intersection of Forest and South Kirkwood streets and make its way down Loockerman Street, ending at Federal Street.
Mr. McGiffin, who is also a member of the local traditional Irish band Celtic Harvest, said he should fit right in with the green-colored, shamrock-shaped event.
“I’m big when it comes to all things Irish,” he said. “I’ve been to Ireland five times, so I’m very interested in Irish history and culture and the influence it has had on our country.”
Usually when the St. Patrick’s Day Parade comes around it is an indication that spring has arrived. But with the colder weather earlier this week, organizers have their fingers crossed.
As of Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service was calling for partly cloudy skies Saturday afternoon with a high temperature of 52 degrees and morning showers.
John Kelly is serving as the event’s co-chair for the first time.
“I’m hoping the weather will be good since this year will mark the 20th time the St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s been held in downtown Dover,” Mr. Kelly said. “There have been a couple of years where the weather has forced the parade to be canceled, but we’re expecting good things for Saturday.”
There will be more than 50 entries marching their way downtown, from floats to bands to singers, with some military groups and some political figures sprinkled in.
Mr. Kelly said there will be ample entertainment, including a large variety of food trucks and family activities planned for the Loockerman Way Plaza from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“We don’t have as many of the marching bands as we’ve had in the past,” he said. “We’ve just ran into a lot of conflicts with local high schools’ band schedules. But we will have lots of entertainment and things to see and do.”
U.S. Air Force Col. Randy Boswell, Cindy Christiansen, Chris Crowell and Paul Fleming will serve as the judges who will be tasked with selecting parade winners in 13 different categories.
Each judge was chosen from the Downtown Dover Partnership due to their longtime commitments to community service.
The categories they will be judging include: Pot of Gold Award (anything with wheels except car clubs); Rainbow Award (car clubs only); Blarney Award (best mascot); The Green Machine (best float); Aran Award (best large animal) and another Aran Award (best small animal).
They also include: Harp Award (best musical group/not a band); Emerald Isle Award (most authentic Irish theme);
Leprechaun Award (best brigade/marching unit/not a band); McNamara Award (best high school marching band); Shamrock Award (best adult band); Mary Fitzpatrick Award (best overall); and Judge’s Favorite.
Mr. Kelly said the parade is a family event and a good day to get everybody together for a good cause — fun.
“Actually it’s kind of cool that everybody comes together to enjoy themselves without dealing with politics or any of the other stuff that is going on,” said Mr. Kelly. “The parade is a chance to kind of relax, enjoy yourself and have a fun time.”
Ironically, that is the same exact plan that Mr. McGiffin has.
“Nobody’s told me what a grand marshal is supposed to do, so my plan is to just smile broadly and enjoy myself as much as I can,” he said. “It should be a great day and a fun time. I’m looking forward to it.”
Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.