Over the last 23 years Alaska’s only St. Patrick’s Day parade has experienced everything the weatherman has to offer, from bitter cold, sleet, snow and rain to unseasonably warm spring sunny skies. While most Sourdough’s agree that this has been one of the mildest winters they can remember, Old Man Winter seemed to pick the infamous holiday to do a little pay back. However, when creator of the event Mike Sweeney showed up with Dr. Dan Pitt’s in a ’69 shamrock green Camaro, the snow squalls subsided long enough for Carrol Martin of the Diamond M Ranch to off load his dappled green lamas and hitch them to a pony cart for the parade. Others joined in as hundreds lined up along the Kenai Spur Highway to collect candy tossed out along the parade route from Bailey’s Furniture to the “Y.” By the time the SPD re-opened the highway and the last parade participant had completed the chilly trek, but before the lamas were led back to the trailer, the snow had started again creating near white out conditions.
“Back in the early nineties I was on the Soldotna Chamber Board and I am a good part Irish, not 100% but we thought it would be a good thing to do to usher spring business to Soldotna and have some fun and here it is 23 years later and we’ve had a parade every year regardless of the weather,” said Sweeney. Coming to Soldotna from Nikiski for their first time in the St. Patrick’s Day parade was the Bull Dog’s Thunder Drumline who were followed by three generations of the Redmond family of Soldotna who have faithfully celebrated their favorite saint’s day by dressing in vintage green regalia and passing out candy to all the kids who line up to watch the parade. Paul Gray in his Exploring Alaska SUV was in the parade for his 22nd year also passing out candy. The Kenai Peninsula Tourism & Marketing Dodge Ram “Stay & Play” pick up was also in the parade with the Stanley Chrysler Ram mascot up top. The unique rig will be raffled off this summer as a KPTMC fund raiser in cooperation with Stanley Chrysler.