When 27-year-old Kevin Shannon moved to Dallas six months ago, he had a very civic-minded goal. No, his goal wasn’t the usual running for political office or serving on some board or commission; he wanted to do something that he considered far more important to the city: plan the biggest, baddest, best St. Patrick’s Day parade Dallas had ever seen.
Soon after Shannon moved to Dallas, he met Helen McEvoy, who works at a downtown advertising agency, in a local Irish bar. When he learned that McEvoy (who moved to Dallas from her native Ireland two years ago) had been involved in community service and public affairs in her home country, Shannon decided to recruit her to help organize the event. They’ve been working together ever since.
Both Shannon and McEvoy seem a bit stunned by the overwhelming response they have received so far: The City of Dallas staff, the Central Business District Association and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as executives from the Adolphus Hotel, Aer Lingus, the Dallas Times Herald and several other corporations have pitched in to help make the parade a success. Scheduled for March 17 at 10:30 a.m., the downtown parade will proceed down Commerce Street and will end up in the Farmers’ Market.
Ten to 15 marching bands from area school districts are expected to participate, as well as the Royal Ulster Rangers (a bagpipe band from Ireland) and the Dallas Caledonian Pipe Band. Dancers from the Emerald School of Irish Dance will perform, and local bars, organizations and corporations will sponsor floats.
Bands and floats will compete for awards in their respec-tive categories. Each float sponsored by a bar will compete for the title of “best Irish bar in Dallas,” and the winner of an Irish beauty contest held earlier in the month will reign as queen of the parade. The parade’s grand marshal is 86-year-old Monsignor John Patrick Brady, who was transplanted from Tipperary, Ireland, to St. Edward’s Parish in Dallas.
Shannon was responsible for putting together a similar parade in Oklahoma City and was also involved in a parade in Kansas City. He says that he wants the Dallas parade to become a city tradition “just as good as [those in] Chicago or New York.” McEvoy says that she plans to begin work on next year’s event on the morning of March 18. Or maybe the afternoon.