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Down but not out, St. Pat's Parade marches on

As the recession worsens, everybody's hurtin'.

Even Syracuse's long-running St. Patrick's Parade is scraping for cash. The annual event, which will draw thousands of revelers downtown at noon Saturday March 12, costs up to $35,000.

A few local taverns - such as Kitty Hoyne's Irish Pub and Restaurant and Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub in Tipp Hill - coordinated fundraisers for the parade, and Guinness beer distributor T.J. Sheehan donated $5,000 this year. But as of last weekend, organizers had raised just $25,000, leaving an estimated $10,000 shortfall.

Nevertheless, the parade marches on.

The theme of the 29th annual procession is "The Blessings of Irish Wit and Wisdom."

"The purpose of the parade," says its president, Janet Higgins, "is to pay homage to our community and celebrate the culture and traditions of the Irish."

Capt. Walsh is grand marshal

Syracuse Police Capt. Richard Patrick Walsh has been chosen as grand marshal of the 2011 parade. As a bagpiper in the Syracuse Kiltie Pipe Band, Walsh has participated in every St. Patrick's Parade here since its inception in 1983. He has worked with the police department for four decades.

Coincidentally, on parade day Walsh will retire as the SPD's captain of detectives, a position he has filled for the past 23 years.

Bugles and banjos

The parade has traditionally presented some 150 units including gaily-bedecked, banjo-playing Philadelphia Mummers, the Syracuse Brigadiers Drum and Bugle Corps, and balloon characters including the Geico gecko and the Limp Lizard. In 2007, a "Trailblazers" float by the CNY Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, depicted the Tipperary Hill stone-throwers who convinced the powers-that-be to install a green-over-red traffic light in the city's Irish West End neighborhood.

The parade committee is also conducting its sixth annual Hunger Project food drive collecting non-perishable food items for the Food Bank of CNY and the Interreligious Food Consortium. Barrels for donations will be placed throughout downtown Syracuse on parade day.

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