YOUNGSTOWN – A parade of mini-floats, which are really extravagantly festooned shopping carts, will take to the street at noon Saturday for a special St. Patrick’s Day Parade honoring the late Mayor C. Neil Riordan.
The event is being organized by the friends who miss him from the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, with the support of the Village of Youngstown.
The parade will begin at the corner of Hinman and Main streets, and travel north to the Ontario House – also known as the Stone Jug – where green beer will be available.
Riordan was active in Youngstown politics for more than three decades and was in his 10th year as mayor when he died in September 2011.
“We truly loved Neil,” said Cheryl Butera, president of the business association. “He was like a dad to us, even though he wasn’t much older than us. He took us under his wing when we opened our store (Anchor Spirits) seven years ago, and he never let us fall.
“Neil’s wish was to have a St. Patrick’s Day parade here, but he died before we could have one in 2012,” she recalled. “When we held our first parade last year, we called it the ‘second annual’ sort of tongue in cheek, and now we are calling this our ‘Third Annual O’Riordan St. Patrick’s Day Parade.’ We found out from Neil’s wife, Dottie, that Neil’s mother was an O’Riordan, who married his father, who was a Riordan.”
Dottie Riordan said, “Neil would have loved this. The floats last year were absolutely adorable. It was a great gathering.”
Cheryl; her son, Rich; and Diane Melloni, of Melloni’s Marketplace, gussied up one of Melloni’s shopping carts for last year’s parade on a whim and decided to take it to the next level this year, inviting all local business owners to borrow a cart to decorate to showcase their business, while incorporating the color green, of course.
Melloni also fondly recalled Riordan being “instrumental in helping us get started in this business.”
She referred to the decorated shopping carts as “mini-floats” for the parade and added, “I have challenged all of the other businesses to come up with a better float than ours. Mine is going to be a surprise this year. I brought this challenge on, so I’d better be close to having something cool.”
In addition, music will be provided by Youngstown’s MacKenzie Highlanders Pipes and Drums with Vincent Burke, Monte and Marcia Jones of Step in Time, Raymond Dietz on bagpipes, Rich Jagow on violin, and any other musicians who would like to donate their time. Live music also will be provided inside Anchor Spirits following the parade.
Performers from Amy Roach’s Youngstown Dance Shop will join in, and Old Fort Niagara will supply re-enactors, featuring Executive Director Robert Emerson and his wife, Kate, who is Niagara County historian. The Youngstown Police Department will temporarily block the street to traffic.
“Everyone who saw this parade last year is coming back, and then some,” said Butera. “It was such a hit and so much fun. People are excited all over again, and we’re excited, too.”
She added that parade-watchers will collect green beads and candy along the short route and that the event will be held rain or shine.
For more information, call Cheryl or Mark Butera at 745-7989.