Saturday, March 22, 2008

No Hitch Here

* The 46th annual Irish Celebration in Houston County went off without too many hitches, other than rainy weather and the arrest of an Amish couple who had come down to sell their goods at a booth.

* Although it was obvious that we didn’t break the record crowds of 2007 (an estimated 15,000 last year), there was still a fair turn-out, considering the morning started with heavy rains and some thundershowers.

* However, by 10 a.m. things were drying out and shaping up nicely, and many folks just made it into town a little later than usual.

* This year’s theme was submitted by Houston County Middle School eighth grader Courtney Walton.

* Walton’s catchy “Live – Laugh – Love” theme personifies the Irish celebration well. The complete theme was “Live Your Dreams. Laugh at all times. Love the Luck of the Irish.” It got her her very own float as Jr. Grand Marshall.

* When asked how she felt as she waved to the crowds, she was basically speechless from all of the excitement.

* Still, her theme carried over well by all of the groups and organizations that made floats this year.

* This year’s judges awarded the first place float to mtwdesign; the Houston County Rec Club garnered second place; and the Houston County Leadership organization took third place.

* According to Houston County Area Chamber of Commerce President Susan Bell, who survived the big day, the day was very successful, due in part to many wonderful volunteer workers.

* And it was a year of several firsts, she said.

* For instance, there was a free shuttle bus going back and forth from Houston County High School to Hill Street (near Erin City Hall), for anyone who didn’t want to park in the congested downtown area or for those unable to walk great distances. The shuttle ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* The bleachers in several areas along the parade route were also new this year, she said, giving people a place to sit instead of having to stand through the almost two-hour-long parade.

* Also, the tossing out of shamrock beach balls was new this year, and a big hit with the kids!

* Finally, Erin Presbyterian Church hosted a breakfast this year, which was reminiscent of the pancake breakfasts that Erin United Methodist used to put on.

* Here are a few other “firsts”…

* Houston County Bassett Hound “Tator” owned by Megan Tomlinson, strolled downtown enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of his first-ever Irish Celebration. Megan’s brother Mason, and her parents Jeff and Stacey Tomlinson, were all just enjoying the day together as a family.

* Stacey, a special education teacher at Houston County Middle School, was finish out her first week of spring break.

* Tennessee Ridge resident Robert Toomalatai had this to say about the celebration: “I look forward to this every year,” he said. “It’s a tradition.”

* He and his wife Kristle were enjoying it together, and Robert’s sister-in-law, Mandi Shelton, from out of town was also very excited.

* “I’ve never been to a St. Patrick’s Day parade,” the East Tennessee resident said. “I’m really excited.”

* Nearby, Jennifer Tanner said this is not her first, but her second, Irish Celebration to attend. She moved her last year and—by the luck of the Irish—turns 18 on St. Patrick’s Day 2008!

* Another first this year was St. Patrick himself. For the past several years, Art Sloan has held that honor, but last year, he said he was going to have to step down due to health issues.

* This year, Ken Wallace, pastor of Erin United Methodist Church, got roped into the position.

* “It’s a real honor,” he said, as he interacted with the crowds during the parade.

* Wallace, who has been pastor for the past eight months, is married to Julia. Together they have five children and four grandchildren.

* The big parade also boasted other firsts:

* This year’s Lord High Mayor, Patsy Brooks, was chauffeured nicely by her husband Archie, who was driving a Lexus.

* The Grand Marshall of the parade was Command Sgt. Major David C. Allard.

* Other local dignitaries include Houston County Mayor George E. Clark; Erin City Mayor Cecil Baggett; Houston County Sheriff Kennith Barnes; Erin Police Chief Darrell Allison.

* It’s always good to see State Senator Rosalind Kurita taking time to visit Houston County, as well.

* Of course, the parade was full of beautiful young ladies who participated in all of the Irish pageants.

* These included: Miss Houston County 2008 – Kelly Hill;

* Ms. Houston County 2008 – Lindsey Lewis;

* Along with: Arianna Marie Nance, Junior Miss Houston County (ages 13-14); Tessa Ross, Junior Miss; Kenzie Herrington, Tiny Princess (7-11 months); Arianna Tyler, Little Miss (age 4); Paisley Epps, Little Miss (age 6); Abigayle Dew, Young Miss Houston County; Tiny Princess Cadence Largent; 2008 Young Miss Starla Crook; Josey Gant, Tiny Princess (age 3); and Chailey Jo Hannah Clark, Tiny Princess (0-6 mos.); and Dayzia Lancaster, Tiny Princess (age 1), to name a few!!!

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