WEST WARWICK – With sunny weather in the forecasts for Sunday, the annual Friendly Sons of St. Patrick’s Day Parade is expecting in reel in thousands.
“If the weather is nice, we should have at least 15,000,” said Parade Chairman Michael O’Connell. “I would imagine it is going to be a nice day and a big crowd.”
The celebrations begin in Coventry and march through West Warwick, drawing not just those of Irish decent, but parade-goers from as far as Warwick, East Greenwich and Cranston. Local dignitaries are expected to include the West Warwick and Coventry town councils, Congressman Jim Langevin, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Mayor Scott Avedisian and Mayor Allan Fung.
This year, Presiding Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court and West Warwick native Alice Gibney will serve as the Grand Marshal. Billie Burke, a 17-year-old West Warwick resident, was crowned as the 2012 Miss Ireland.
Marching through the streets with this year’s performers will be local musicians, dancers, floats, Girl and Boy Scout troops and state and local officials. There will be 11 bands marching to Irish tunes including Coventry and West Warwick high schools’ bands and the 88th Army Band of the National Guard.
Dancers and gymnasts from KC Cats and Rita Beaulieu’s Dance in Coventry and Judie T. Dance Studio in West Warwick will join in this year’s celebrations.
The performers will set out at 1 p.m. from Washington Street at Iannotti’s Funeral Home and head down Washington Street and Main Street. The parade will conclude at Columbus Circle past the police station.
The Reviewing Stand will be on the steps of the West Warwick Town Hall where local dignitaries will enjoy the view of the parade from.
“It’s a good family parade,” said O’Connell.