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St. Patrick's Parade Hits with Tourists and Locals

March 18, 2006 – Irish eyes were smiling Saturday as St. John celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a wee parade through Cruz Bay streets.
"We're here for the party, the parade and because we're Irish," said Dean Humphrey of Jerricho, Vt., as he and his wife, Cyndi, waited for the 15-minute parade to start.
St. John resident Lisa Durgin, wearing green of course, and carrying a cooler cup trimmed in green fur, was busy chatting with friends. She had a quick response when asked if she was Irish.
"Lisa Kathleen…," she said, inferring that with a middle name like Kathleen, she had to be Irish.
St. John resident Patty Mahoney said that she was just about "pedigree" with both a mother and father with their roots in Ireland.
While the parade brought out a couple hundred residents, it's become a hot event for visitors who time their vacation for the St. Patrick's Day parade.
A contingent from Buffalo, N.Y., was on hand for the ninth year in a row.
With all but one of the 15 coming from the Buffalo area, the group marched in the parade behind a Quiet Mon Pub banner. The Quiet Mon organizes the event that runs right past the island's only Irish bar.
Drew Eszak said the group makes the trip every year because they know the bar's owner, Kelly Krall, whose late husband, Steve, hailed from Buffalo.
"And it's warmer here than in Buffalo," he said, laughing.
Randy and Vickie Yohe of Huntington, W.Va., timed their Maho Bay Camps vacation to coincide with the parade.
"It's big fun in a small space," Randy Yohe said.
Yohe said he and his wife like St. John so much, they're exploring the idea of moving to the island.
While visitors may find the parade amusing, some St. John residents said they come out because the island doesn't offer much in the way of things to do.
"We're starved for entertainment," Bear Dill said.
This year's parade had long-time St. John residents Mary Pat Brown and James McLaughlin as grand marshals. Decked out in green and carrying bouquets of green balloons, the two looked straight from the "old sod."
No St. John parade would be complete without the Middle Age Majorettes, a rollicking group wearing T-shirts printed with shamrock-covered bikinis.
"Any excuse to wear a wig," said member Pam Gaffin, sporting an electric green wig that perfectly matched her outfit.
The parade started with an honor guard carrying the U.S. and Virgin Islands flags as well as that of Ireland.

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