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By Penni Schaefer
‘Twas a little nippy but that didn’t stop hundreds of Irish and Irish wannabes of all ages from filling Chestnut Street Saturday afternoon for the annual Jack Curtin St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration.
“This is the ninth year that I’ve packed everyone up and come to the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” said Patty Fiely of Meadville, watching over her flock of five.
But now Fiely is amazed at how the annual tradition, begun by the old Bostonian Irishman Jack Curtin, has grown into a favorite community event.
“Today’s turnout is larger than before,” Fiely said. “In the beginning it took me longer to get the kids into their snow suits than it took for the parade to finish.”
Fiely’s three oldest boys sit on a plaid blanket and sporadically scurry into the streets for candy. Luke, 7, Isaac, 6, and Samuel, 5, also scan the street looking for their dad, Mark, a member of the barbershop harmony group, “Yesterday’s Sounds.”
With daughter Hope, 9, and son Benjamin, 19 months nearby, Fiely said the St. Patrick’s day parade has become an especially meaningful event to her family because the late Jack Curtin was not only a business and civic leader, he was a friend.
“I knew Jack and his family because we used to attend the same church,” she said. “In fact, Eileen, his daughter, and I went to school together.”
Instead of watching from the outdoors, some Meadville community members joined in the celebration from the warmth and comfort of the local businesses on Chestnut Street.
Perched on a barstool holding a bottle of Guinness and peering out the Town Tavern window, Dick Minnis watches the boisterous wave of balloon-carrying, candy-throwing passerby.
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