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Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle hops her way down the parade route with the Easthampton Fire Department at the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Reminder Publishing file photo

HOLYOKE — Excitement is brewing in Holyoke as the city’s biggest weekend, the 71st St. Patrick’s Parade weekend, approaches with parade day coinciding with the holiday itself.

Green season has been in full swing over the last month and will culminate over parade weekend. The weekend unofficially starts on Friday, March 15, but citywide events start on March 16 with parade day on March 17.

The weekend has lasted over seven decades now because of the tight knit community at its center and the excitement each year brings for all in the city, Irish heritage or not.

“We’re just really excited that green season is finally here,” 2024 Parade President Hayley Dunn told Reminder Publishing in January when discussing upcoming events leading up to the parade. “The excitement is just building up. Everything is falling into place, and we’re just really excited for the weekend to be here.”

Starting on March 16, the St. Patrick’s Road Race will kick off parade weekend in its 47th year of the event. The described kickoff block party coincides with the 10K race and 2-mile walking route, both running through the city.

For the 10K race, entry price is $35, while for the 2-mile walk it is $30. The race day will be accompanied by a block party of food and drink vendors lining the streets.

Those interested can find more information and register at holyokestpatricksroadrace.org.

Bib pick-up will be available on race day from 9 a.m. until noon and the 10K race officially begins at 1 p.m. The walk starts at 1:30 p.m. A kids fun run will begin at 11 a.m. and is completely free. Line ups will begin at 10:45 a.m. at the intersection of Hampden and Walnut streets.

Later in the afternoon, ceremonies begin related to the JFK Award given each year to a prominent Irish American. At 4 p.m., a JFK Memorial Wreath Laying will take place at the intersection of Appleton and Sycamore streets.

In the evening will be the JFK Award’s Bishop’s Mass from 5-6:30 p.m., which will then lead into the 2024 JFK Award Dinner and Reception. This year’s recipient is longtime Boston Celtics TV play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman, who has had the role for 43 years.

Gorman told Reminder Publishing last month that he was flabbergasted when he learned he would be receiving the honor.

“I’m a Dorchester guy, so I have never been to Holyoke. I never knew about this parade, never knew of any of this. And to hear the staggering numbers of people who turn out to watch this parade, as well as the remarkable list of people that have been given the JFK Award, it’s just remarkable. Sometimes I pinch myself because I think of myself as an Irishman, but never thought I’d be awarded for being one,” Gorman said.

Parade day will kick off at 8 a.m. with the Ambassador’s Award Breakfast and the parade itself will start at 11 a.m.

The inaugural St. Patrick’s Parade was hosted on March 16, 1952, with a reported 25,000 people watching along the parade route. The city looked to draw on its Irish heritage and the event became a hit with it now attracting an estimated 400,000 people annually.

For more information on the upcoming events for Parade Weekend, visit holyokestpatricksparade.com.

tlevakis@thereminder.com | + posts