Halcottsville St. Pat's parade is an institution

By Pauline Liu
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the hamlet of Halcottsville may be the only one of its kind. Now in its 19th year, it is also an institution, a combination of whimsy and fun.

“This is a unique parade, because you can see it a second time,” said Pat Tucker of Halcottsville. It’s true. It may be the only parade in the world, where marchers in green and more than a dozen fire vehicles, head down Main Street, only to double back. 

The parade was the brainchild of Dave Riordan of Halcottsville, who continues to serve as its organizer.

“I’m the last surviving descendent of the Ancient Order of the Children of the Leprechaun,” he joked with a straight face.

Riordan explained that he doesn’t do it alone. “You know when they say, ‘It takes a village?’” said Riordan. “All it takes is Halcottsville!” he added. 
According to Riordan, the parade route is only two-tenths-of-a-mile long and even though they do it twice, the parade lasts only 23 minutes, from start-to-finish. “One year, we took 27 minutes and that was a big deal,” Reardon said with a big smile.

Fire companies and more
All of the local fire companies participated in the parade. Retired Middletown Supervisor Lenny Utter was waving to the crowd from behind the wheel of an Arena fire truck. Arkville, Fleischmanns, Grand Gorge, Halcottsville, Hobart,  Margaretville, Roxbury and Stamford were represented.

When it looked as though the parade was over, there was actually a third leg to the event. “Do you know about the running of the sirens?” asked Riordan. “It’s when all of the fire departments drive back running their sirens as loud and as long as they can, as they come back for food,” he added, just as the sirens started to blare. All of the fire vehicles headed straight for the Halcottsville Firehall, where lunch was already in progress.

Among those having lunch at the firehall were the king and queen of the parade, Louise and Jim Campone, who’ve made Vega their home for 39 years. How did they get the honor? “We just drove up to Dave’s house and parked,” said Louise matter of factly.  “Dave told us he needs a king and queen, would we do it?” she added with a laugh.  Instead of giving an interview, Jim sang “My Irish Jaunty Car,” for this reporter.

Asked if the parade will mark its 20th anniversary next year, Riordan has not doubt. “It’ll be even bigger and better than ever.”