Hundreds of spectators crowded the streets Saturday to watch Aggieville’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade.
The 40-something degree drop in temperatures from Friday to Saturday didn’t deter those who wanted to show a little Irish pride and get a glimpse at the 62 parade participants.
“We had a great turnout today for those who braved the cold and the rain held off,” said Evan Tuttle, executive director of the Aggieville Business Association.
The parade’s 62 participants came in a wide variety of old model cars, floats, animals, dancers and walking groups of all ages.
The most intricately designed float came from a family who has made the Manhattan Saint Patrick’s day parade a tradition. The Weisbenders have been participating in the parade for seven years and have come to make the day something they look forward to each year — especially the children.
“I can’t wait to ride in the parade,” said seven-year-old Joei Weisbender, who has participated in the parade other years.
This year, the family put together a float that incorporated a 1947 CJ Jeep — complete with headlight-eyes and a smiling mouth — pulling a pot of gold big enough to hold the 11 children who played golden nuggets during the parade.
“We’ve been breeding our own little leprechauns,” Tera Weisbender said in reference to the float’s title, “Leprechaun Breeders Association” and the three generations of Weisbenders who participated in this year’s parade.
Another group that has been a solid participant in the parade throughout the years is Manhattan Special Olympics. Although the organization’s participation has varied due to the team’s basketball schedule, Kim Schnee, Manhattan Special Olympic’s head coach and board president, said the athletes always look forward to this event.
“We’ve been teaching everyone how to do the royal wave,” Schnee said. “This year’s parade theme was a pot of gold so we’re all wearing our gold medals.”
Other unique participants included the Riley County Genealogical Society, with a float that displayed a laundry line full of jeans with the slogan, ‘do you have Irish genes jeans’; the walking group representing the Riley County Humane Society complete with people carrying puppies and a long-haired rabbit; Kaw Valley Cloggers, an a traditional Irish dance group who danced on a trailer behind a pick-up truck; a group of Irish Wolfhounds, both full grown and puppies; the Tri-County Horseman’s Association, that displayed numerous full grown horses and thigh-high pony; and Bikers Against Child Abuse, a motorcycle group who came all the way from Topeka to participate in Saturday’s parade.
“My favorite is the Piper Posse,” Tuttle said. “They make me cry every year with their reverence and skill.”
Other events held Saturday in light of the Saint Patrick’s day celebration included a green eggs and ham breakfast, two-mile walk and run, 10k race and horse-drawn carriage rides though Aggieville and City Park.