Dover’s St. Patrick’s Parade to be a week later this year

DOVER — A lack of volunteers for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dover on its traditional date — the weekend before the Irish-themed holiday — had put the parade committee in a bit of a quandary.

However, after seeking input from volunteers, participants and business owners, parade committee members elected to move the date of this year’s 23rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival to Saturday, March 21, at 1 p.m. Festival Marketplace vendors will be set up at the Loockerman Way Plaza from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Brynn Voshell, the administrative assistant/marketing manager for the Downtown Dover Partnership (DDP), said there was never any serious consideration of canceling the popular downtown event next month.

“A lack of volunteers on its traditional weekend was the main reason that we had to switch (the date),” Mrs. Voshell said. “There’s just a lot of community things going on that day (March 14), along with Wilmington’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, and we end up competing with that.

“It takes manpower to run these things, so with getting community input and input from our logistics staff, we decided the best option would be to have this year’s parade on March 21.”

The parade date was voted on a Facebook event page poll and another on the Downtown Dover page with March 21 winning 263-83 over a proposed Friday, March 13 (6 p.m.) parade.

The date change did not please everybody.

Diana Welch, owner of the Grey Fox Grille and Public House and the Golden Fleece Tavern in downtown Dover, wrote on her Facebook page “Downtown Dover Happenings” that the poll did not last long enough or receive enough input.

“This ‘poll’ was up less than eight hours,” she wrote. “For us that own service businesses downtown we don’t check Facebook 24/7. I just saw this. And I have the same question, ‘What is more important than Saint Paddy’s Day on Saint Paddy’s Day?’”

Regardless of the date, Mrs. Voshell said interest has remained high, as the DDP has already received more than 22 applications from people and organizations interested in participating, such as the Dover Fire Department Pipes and Drums Unit and the Dover High Marching Band.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade attracted more than 60 entries last year.

The parade also brings floats, entertainers, pets and community groups — and surely more than a handful of leprechauns to Loockerman Street.

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

“So far, so good,” she said, of next month’s parade. “I had a few that had already responded to the date change and only two out of those said they can’t make the new date. We also had two that couldn’t make it before (the new date), but now they can make it.”

Mrs. Voshell added that the parade committee is working on the parade route itself and it will still begin at Legislative Mall and head west down Loockerman Street. The committee is still waiting on confirmation as to where it will end.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is one that the DDP, downtown merchants and many members of the community enjoy every year.

“Once the dust settles from some people being angry for a few minutes, I’ll be really excited about the parade because it brings a whole other crowd downtown,” Mrs. Voshell said. “We plan to continue with the ‘Luck of the Irish’ in downtown Dover throughout the week after the parade to help keep St. Patrick’s spirit going long after.”