Dover going green for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

From left, Alexander Dovcette, Rebecca Campbell and Gillian Jarrell dance to Irish music during last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dover. This year’s parade gets underway at 1 p.m. Saturday on Loockerman Street. (Delaware State News file photo/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Dawne Nickerson-Banez, chief of community engagement at Dover Air Force Base, can usually be seen on base or around the city sporting a little bit of purple dye in her hair.

She said that’s because purple is the mixture of the red, white and blue colors of the American flag and it also happens to be her favorite color.

However, on Saturday, Mrs. Nickerson-Banez promises to replace that purple with green as she will be serving as the grand marshal of Dover’s 22nd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and will travel down the parade route aboard a green and gray Polaris Slingshot three-wheeled motor vehicle.

“It will be a one-time sighting of me in green hair,” she said, with a laugh.

Mrs. Nickerson-Banez, who has served as the liaison between the civilian and base communities since 2016, said it will be her first experience as a grand marshal for a parade. She laughed and said she wasn’t even sure what a Slingshot was at first.

“I’m leading the parade and it’ll be fun just to see all the Dover community coming out to support the event,” she said. “I’ve always watched parades from the sidelines, so this should be fun because I’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the whole event.

“It’s a huge honor. I was just kind of blown over when the (parade committee) emailed me and asked me to do it. It’s kind of a true testament to have one foot involved in both communities (the city and the base).”

Mrs. Nickerson-Banez said downtown Dover’s main business thoroughfare could easily be referred to as “O’Loockerman Street” for just a bit on Saturday as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off at 1 p.m., engaging both participants and onlooking revelers alike.

The green-tinted event will start out on Legislative Mall and will travel west down Loockerman Street before turning left on South Queen Street and finishing up at Wesley College’s Health Sciences building.

Brynn Voshell, the administrative assistant/marketing manager for the Downtown Dover Partnership, is serving as the co-chair of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Dover along with Tina Bradbury, operations manager for the DDP.

Deacon Robert E. McMullen of Church of the Holy Cross in Dover walks in last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dover. (Delaware State News file photo/Marc Clery)

Ms. Voshell said the parade has attracted more than 60 entries, including marching bands from Holy Cross and Smyrna High School, as well as the Dover Fire Department’s Pipes and Drums unit. Dover High’s band is unable to perform Saturday due to prior commitments.

There will be floats, entertainers, pets and community groups featured in the parade — and surely more than a handful of leprechauns.

Mrs. Voshell said the spirit of the Irish-themed parade is one that is hard to top. Awards are presented to parade participants in several categories.

“This parade, I think people are looking to have more fun out there (as opposed to other ones) and they can get festive and wear green and everything,” she said. “I just enjoy watching the kids out there and watching how much fun they have out there dancing near the streets, wearing their green and watching all of the bands and floats go past. It’s just a lot of fun watching all the families.”

Jonathan Street, Kent County Sheriff Brian Lewis, Col. Tyler Schaff, Yossy Vanegas and Carolyn Fredricks will serve as judges for the parade.

Besides the parade, there will also be food trucks and kids’ activities set up for a pre-parade festival that begins at 11 a.m. at Loockerman Way that will feature merchants, food vendors, arts and crafts, balloon animals, cornhole and other games with most downtown stores open.

Ray and Jeanne Moore, named “Mr. and Mrs. Modern Maturity Center” this year, will also be at the front of Dover’s parade this month, carrying the banner to kick it all off for the DDP.

“Since we just found out I’m kind of excited about it,” Mr. Moore said. “We enjoy volunteering and we enjoy helping people. I just enjoy the people. We enjoy the parade and all the festivities that go with it and working and helping the city of Dover. This is a little more of a laid-back parade.”

Ms. Voshell said she just hopes the weather holds out because there isn’t a rain date for the event.

The National Weather Service is calling for high temperatures of around 50 degrees with mostly sunny skies.

“The weather forecast looks promising, so that’s good news,” said Ms. Voshell. “We’re looking forward to everyone having a great time downtown at Dover’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday. It’s a day when everyone gets a chance to feel a little bit Irish.”

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