What it lacked in length, Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade in Adamsville made up for in spirit.
Main Street was lined two and three deep as the 89-foot procession stepped off just after 2 p.m., cheered on by emcee Louis Pieri and led by grand marshals Paula and Jim Downing. By then, Little Compton Historical Society's Marjory O'Toole had already measured out the entire route and certified the length as official — a few feet shorter than the other "shortest" St. Patrick's Day Parade in Hot Springs, Ark.
While last year's inaugural parade drew maybe 300 to 400, organizers estimated the crowd Saturday at nearly 1,000. It was made up of Irish, Irish for a day, kids and elders who sat on stone walls, popped into the road to take photos and cheered as the procession made its way slowly past.
Organizers were thrilled, partly because the parade started off as a joke last year.
"The idea came during a St. Patrick's Day breakfast at our house with Paddy Manning and Mike, Stu and Wil Kinnane," Chuck Kinnane said. "We all joked that we needed a St. Patrick's Day parade in the village and we could walk between our houses — it started as a joke."
So they looked into 'short' St. Patrick's Day parades, learned about the one in Hot Springs and decided to best it, agreeing at the time that the parade would be a ton of fun and could also have a positive impact on the community long after the day itself. Like last year, it benefited the Little Compton Food Bank, and this year the event raised nearly $10,000.
Pulling off the parade and corned beef dinner afterwards took a coordinated effort between organizers and many local businesses and groups, and organizers received a lot of help, and donated time, from Bootleg BBQ, Adamsville Wine and Spirits, Buzzards Bay Brewing and many others. After the parade concluded, organizers served about 130 Irish dinners — corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and soda bread — with bottomless pints to wash it all down.
One of the biggest hits this year was the music, and the procession was peppered with local bands and regional groups. The Little Compton Band played electric out of the bed of an old pickup truck, and members of the traditional fiddle band Scottish Fish set up on a flatbed that stopped at one or two spots along the route. There were bagpipers, dance troupes, motorcycles and ponies, and the procession ended with St. Patrick himself and a lone bagpiper who played "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" as she marched slowly down the road.
At the finish line, the party continued inside the Kinnane property and went long into the evening, with another performance by Scottish Fish, Little Compton residents Patrick, Sean and Malcolm Bowen, and others who took turns on the stage.