I think this was the 23rd Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Maybe it was the 22nd, maybe the 24th–somehow none of that really seems to matter when it comes to Mike Kelly’s showcase event. Frankly, sometimes I’m not sure it’s even a parade . . .  perhaps more a celebration of the joy and importance of being different.

Oh sure, there’s marching bands, the American Legion, police cars, fire engines and drill teams. But let’s face it, when was the last time you saw any parade where the drill team performed with beach chairs–and they’re good, too . . . even if half of them are men dressed as women and the other half are dressed, well, uniquely.

There’s a reason why people begin lining the parade route a good hour to an hour and a half before the official start. For one thing, if you’re a family, it’s important to be up front because a lot of candy makes its way to the crowd. The stuff that used to be called penny candy–miniature tootsie rolls, sour balls, bubble gum, the quantities that come from the floats, the cars and everybody else that seems to be tossing candy to the kids is astonishing. I’ve seen kids make a better haul on St. Patty’s penny candy than they did at Halloween.

Of course the floats are that one of a kind concept that seems so natural to the parade. It’s a little difficult to know exactly what the theme of most of the floats is supposed to be. Some of them are very understandable–this year’s theme was the 10th anniversary of the Outer Banks Hospital and it appeared as though half the staff of the hospital was crammed into their two or three floats.

But then there’s the floats where it appears as though the sponsor’s daughter and her best friend get to dance for the whole time it takes to traverse the one mile route.

The past couple of years there seems to be a bit more politics in the parade. Every candidate in eastern North Carolina has always made it a point to sit in a convertible and wave to the crowd, but the Republican Party, Tea Party and Democratic Party all had floats in the parade this year. I did notice that the Republican and Tea Party were one after the other. Probably better that the Democratic float trailed one band and three floats behind.

If it is a parade, I suppose it would be considered an open forum format. So, in addition to the four or five marching bands, lots of shiny cars and floats, there is a rider on a unicycle jumping rope–and by the way, this looks to be an 8’ unicycle; people walking their dogs, the dogs, of course painted green. The best visual though may have been the Kill Devil Roller Brigrade (that’s right, the Outer Banks has a Roller Derby team) skating right at me. Now that’s a memory that won’t fade away.