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Happening Today: Huntsville’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The band 'Bourbon and Shamrocks' performs in their ship The Irish Rover, in a past St. Patrick's Day Parade through downtown Huntsville. (Photo: WHNT News 19)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Get your green ready, because St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner!

The holiday is March 17, but the 40th Annual Ellen McAnelly Memorial St. Patrick’s Day Parade will wind through the streets of downtown Huntsville on Saturday, March 11, 2017.  The parade begins at 11:30 a.m. and is presented by the Irish Society of North Alabama and sponsored by Straight to Ale.

Why so early? There’s a good reason, don’t worry.

“The reason we do it the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day is because we can actually schedule that,” said Mike Cox, the 2017 parade chairman. “No matter what day St. Patrick’s Day falls on, we can schedule it on that Saturday so it frees up families to come out.”

Huntsvillestpatricksday.com

Huntsvillestpatricksday.com

Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! Put on your green and bring the family to watch the parade and enjoy Irish culture, music and heritage in a fun, friendly atmosphere.

“The Ellen McAnelly St. Patrick’s Day parade is for the community of Huntsville,” said Cox. “All proceeds we get from sponsors go back into next year’s parade to make it a great event for everyone to enjoy. It honors the memory of Ellen McAnelly, who founded the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Huntsville, and it also raises awareness about the Irish Society of North Alabama.”

It’s free to participate in the parade, by the way. If your group would like to march, please register on huntsvillestpatricksday.com. Staging will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Lot K, between Holmes Avenue and Clinton Avenue.  Here’s a map of the route:

Map of 2017 Huntsville St. Patrick's Day Parade

Map of 2017 Huntsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The parade after-party is at Straight to Ale, located at Campus 805. It starts at 1:30 p.m. and is family friendly. There will be inflatables set up in Butler Green and Ale’s Kitchen will be serving food. You can enjoy Irish music and get this — the North Alabama Irish Wolfhound Club will bring 10 to 12 Irish Wolfhounds! You can meet these friendly dogs and take pictures with them.

(Photo: Facebook/North Alabama Irish Wolfhounds)

(Photo: Facebook/North Alabama Irish Wolfhounds)

Mike Cox and his wife Melissa founded the club. Their wolfhound Kya weighs 130 pounds, but some weigh 200 pounds.

“There will literally be a ton of wolfhounds,” Cox said with a chuckle.

A word about this year’s Grand Marshals

Bruce and Jo Weddendorf, co-owners of Straight to Ale, will be the parade’s Grand Marshals this year.  The two are very proud to call Huntsville their home, having both moved here back in the 1980’s to work at NASA, where they first met many years ago.

Jo has been working as a Mechanical Engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for over 30 years, and is currently in the Space Launch System Program Office.

Bruce left NASA in 1996 to pursue his career as a consulting Mechanical Design Engineer, and both Bruce and Jo joined with Dan Perry and other friends in 2009 to found Straight to Ale, which they have built to be the largest brewery in north Alabama. Through Straight to Ale, Bruce and Jo have hosted countless community events over the years, helping many local charities meet their goals, while at the same time making Huntsville a more fun place to live.

A big part of this is the Huntsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which Straight to Ale has sponsored for several years. Bruce and Jo say they’re proud to help bring this great event to our beloved City, spreading the spirit of the Irish, and encourage everyone in Huntsville to join in the festivities!