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Northampton float a hit in Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade

  • Northampton High School senior Eli Spector, flanked by NHS cheerleaders, lip syncs to "Twist and Shout" on the Northampton St. Patrick's Association float, titled "Ferris O'Bueller's Day Off...", in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Northampton High School senior Eli Spector, flanked by NHS cheerleaders, lip syncs to "Twist and Shout" on the Northampton St. Patrick's Association float, titled "Ferris O'Bueller's Day Off...", in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Thomas Fitzell of South Hadley dances atop the "Leprechaun Plunge for Charity" float in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday. The annual plunge into the Connecticut River at Brunelle's Marina in South Hadley, which takes place the Sunday before the parade, raised over 90,000 dollars this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Thomas Fitzell of South Hadley dances atop the "Leprechaun Plunge for Charity" float in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday. The annual plunge into the Connecticut River at Brunelle's Marina in South Hadley, which takes place the Sunday before the parade, raised over 90,000 dollars this year.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton middle schoolers Katie Lienert, left, and Alesandra Campedelli were joined by Katie's parents, Jackie and Brian Lienert, and their 3-year-old German shepherd Murphy, in cheering on the Northampton High School Band as it marched in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Northampton middle schoolers Katie Lienert, left, and Alesandra Campedelli were joined by Katie's parents, Jackie and Brian Lienert, and their 3-year-old German shepherd Murphy, in cheering on the Northampton High School Band as it marched in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.

    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton junior Brandon Paige plays the sousaphone with the marching band in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Easthampton junior Brandon Paige plays the sousaphone with the marching band in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Belchertown High School senior twirler Brittani Aldrich leads the flag corps and the marching band up Beech Street in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Belchertown High School senior twirler Brittani Aldrich leads the flag corps and the marching band up Beech Street in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Connor Nevin, 12, of Belchertown stirs a pot of maple sap as he helps out on the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School Horticulture/Forestry department float driven by his father, Mark Nevin, an instructor at the school, during the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Connor Nevin, 12, of Belchertown stirs a pot of maple sap as he helps out on the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School Horticulture/Forestry department float driven by his father, Mark Nevin, an instructor at the school, during the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton junior Brandon Paige plays the sousaphone with the marching band in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Easthampton junior Brandon Paige plays the sousaphone with the marching band in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren marches with the Chicopee contingent of the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren marches with the Chicopee contingent of the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley High School senior drummer Chris Deschenes donned shamrock shades to march in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    South Hadley High School senior drummer Chris Deschenes donned shamrock shades to march in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rachel Connell, center, of Easthampton, the 2013 Easthampton Distinguished Young Woman, marches in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Rachel Connell, center, of Easthampton, the 2013 Easthampton Distinguished Young Woman, marches in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gwen Dupont, left, and Karen O'Connor ride aboard the float "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" which won first place in the Patriotic category of the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Gwen Dupont, left, and Karen O'Connor ride aboard the float "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" which won first place in the Patriotic category of the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • The South Hadley fire department is followed in the distance by contingents from the UMass mounted police and the Amherst police department down Beech Street during the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    The South Hadley fire department is followed in the distance by contingents from the UMass mounted police and the Amherst police department down Beech Street during the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton mayor David Narkewicz marches with city councilors in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Northampton mayor David Narkewicz marches with city councilors in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton High School senior Eli Spector, flanked by NHS cheerleaders, lip syncs to "Twist and Shout" on the Northampton St. Patrick's Association float, titled "Ferris O'Bueller's Day Off...", in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Thomas Fitzell of South Hadley dances atop the "Leprechaun Plunge for Charity" float in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday. The annual plunge into the Connecticut River at Brunelle's Marina in South Hadley, which takes place the Sunday before the parade, raised over 90,000 dollars this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Northampton middle schoolers Katie Lienert, left, and Alesandra Campedelli were joined by Katie's parents, Jackie and Brian Lienert, and their 3-year-old German shepherd Murphy, in cheering on the Northampton High School Band as it marched in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/><br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Easthampton junior Brandon Paige plays the sousaphone with the marching band in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Belchertown High School senior twirler Brittani Aldrich leads the flag corps and the marching band up Beech Street in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Connor Nevin, 12, of Belchertown stirs a pot of maple sap as he helps out on the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School Horticulture/Forestry department float driven by his father, Mark Nevin, an instructor at the school, during the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Easthampton junior Brandon Paige plays the sousaphone with the marching band in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren marches with the Chicopee contingent of the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • South Hadley High School senior drummer Chris Deschenes donned shamrock shades to march in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Rachel Connell, center, of Easthampton, the 2013 Easthampton Distinguished Young Woman, marches in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Gwen Dupont, left, and Karen O'Connor ride aboard the float "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" which won first place in the Patriotic category of the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • The South Hadley fire department is followed in the distance by contingents from the UMass mounted police and the Amherst police department down Beech Street during the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Northampton mayor David Narkewicz marches with city councilors in the 2013 Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade Sunday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

“We were really going for crowd reaction this year,” said member Tim Driscoll of Florence. Eli Spector, a senior at Northampton High School playing a more-than-passable impersonation of the 1980s movie icon, was surrounded by cheerleaders belting out songs from the movie (and float theme) “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

“We were just having a beer one night and decided instead of trying to win an award for our float that we’d just have fun this year,” Driscoll said.

Tom Dunphy, also of the St. Patrick’s Association, who lives in Leeds, said that he loves being part of the parade. “I love seeing everyone’s excitement. You can see all the sides of the people and parade and just have fun and laugh,” he said.

The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade stepped off for its 61st year Sunday with thousands braving the cold on the sunny day.

“This is a great event and a testimony to the great work of the parade committee. The parade contributes over $20 million to our local economy and is a wonderful cultural event,” Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said.

The St. Patrick’s Parade included a float with a large green and gold castle for the “Grand Colleen” (which is a term for “girl” in Ireland) and her court.

Brianna Gresh, who was selected as this year’s Grand Colleen, is majoring in biology/pre-dental at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The 2.65-mile parade route is a sea of green and happy people dressed in every manner of clothing.

Even the dogs come dressed in Irish attire, with one bulldog sporting a jaunty green cap — and yes, the beer was clearly flowing. “You know the Irish, they like to stretch the party two, three, four days,” Dunphy said with a laugh.

Local residents prepared for the parade for days in advance, setting out chairs, couches, tables and benches in order to get the best seats. Easily one of the biggest annual celebrations in western Massachusetts, the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade is noted to be one of the top parades nationwide and is televised.

“They brought enough stuff for a weekend in the woods!” exclaimed Scott MacDonald of West Springfield.

“We don’t mess around,” said Annie Bartlett, also of West Springfield.

Dave McClain, of Holyoke, who was wildly dressed and dyed his beard green, said, “This is the one time of year everyone can get out and show their spirit.”

Maureen Bergeron, who comes with a large contingent of her family every year from Brattleboro, Vt., said that her grandfather grew up in Holyoke. “We’ve been coming here since we were kids, now that we’re old, there’s a big competition to see who stays the longest,” she said.

Surrounded by children blowing bubbles, and smells of fried dough and sausages, the party atmosphere grew as the day wore on. Todd Hetu, 7, of Southampton, said he liked the classic cars the best, while Olivia Davis, 6, of Chicopee, said she liked getting dressed up and seeing the horses. Two children, Hailey Grant, 8, and Soeil Otero, 6, both of Springfield, were excited because family members were participating in the parade. “My Nana is in the parade and I’m going to give her this beautiful flower,” Hailey said.

Some of the parade participants were of the animal variety. Leah Greenberger, owner of the Belchertown Veterinary Hospital, rode her well-decorated Paso Fino horse along with some friends. Greenberger said her horse Luke has been in the parade for 14 years. “He’s so good. When the kids come around he won’t even move his feet until they are out of the way,” she said. The daintily stepping Paso Fino horses were contrasted by a large team of towering Clydesdales driven by Hallamore Riggers from Holbrook.

David Narkewicz, mayor of Northampton, said that Northampton had some great entries in the parade, including the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. The school’s float showcased various aspects of agriculture, including some new lambs. “It’s such a great parade — and we’re all thinking warm thoughts right now,” Narkewicz said.

The Civil War was also represented this year with a group of re-enactors from the 10th Massachusetts Volunteers Infantry Company C from Florence.

“We want to preserve our history,” said Ryan Dolan of Granby.

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