For nearly half a century, St. Louis’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade has brought its Irish-themed celebration to the Gateway City. And who is behind the extravagant event? A group of dedicated volunteers. When asked about one who stands out, St. Louisan John Walsh comes to the mind of parade chairman Vince Via.
Longtime volunteer Walsh says he has been around the St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day Parade his entire life, noting a long-term family commitment to the organization. “I have two uncles who have been on this committee for years and my late grandfather worked on the committee for many years before he passed last fall, so it’s something that I was just born into,” Walsh says. “I marched in the parade as a child and began helping my dad start the parade when I was a teenager. I took over for my dad as the parade starter 13 years ago.”
Walsh continues to talk about family when discussing his time with the parade, noting that all his favorite event memories all revolve around his extended family enjoying the celebration. Family-friendly aspects of the event include cartoon parade balloons and Leprechaun Village, a children’s village in Aloe Plaza.
“I’m inspired to continue to dedicate my time to this organization every year because of the tremendously dedicated volunteers,” says Walsh, who outside of the parade works in sales in Clayton. “People on our committee are civic minded and take a great deal of pride in using their individual strengths to ensure that this event is one of the best events in St. Louis every year.”
The 49th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at 1 p.m. in Downtown St. Louis on March 17.