LAWRENCE — Ready for St. Patrick’s Day? The organizers of the city’s first parade in years seem to be.
They’ve raised more than $17,000 through private donations, chosen Edward F. “Hoppy” Curran as the grand marshal and have been getting calls from a variety of groups wanting to participate — from marching bands, bag pipers and other civic organizations.
“Schools will play a big part in the parade,” said Lawrence Police Detective Tom Cuddy, who chairs the parade committee. “We were very, very pleased by the turnout and the amount of support we’ve received for the parade.”
The parade’s theme is “Cead Mile Failte” — Gaelic for “A 100,000 Welcomes.”
“This is a long standing Irish theme,” Cuddy said. “This whole parade is showcasing Lawrence to people past, present and future. Much like the Italian feast and Hispanic Week, it brings people to Lawrence and is another way to showcase the city in a positive way,” Cuddy said.
When the committee was looking for someone to lead the parade as the grand marshal, they wanted a local person who was still active in the community.
Curran, a Lawrence native now living in Methuen, served with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and earned a Silver Medal and Gallantry Cross in Vietnam.
He was instrumental in creating a Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence. He event went to Washington, D.C. to research the names of Lawrence servicemen who died in Vietnam.
After erecting the memorial in 1991, the Lawrence Vietnam Memorial Committee continued to be active by hosting a cabaret dance and road race to raise money for scholarships and other charitable events. The group has distributed $100,000 since its inception.
Curran was the director of Veterans Services in Methuen for nine years before retiring in 2007.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at 1 p.m. at the corner of Amesbury and Essex streets, heading up by Claddagh and over the Central Bridge onto Parker Street. Participants will take a left onto Salem Street by St. Patrick Church. The viewing stand will be at Relief’s In, 1 Market St.