March 15, 2003 – A tropical downpour couldn't put a damper on Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade in Cruz Bay.
"I wouldn't miss a gathering like this on St. John," resident John Fuller said as he ducked under an awning to escape the rain.
The parade, which ran about 10 minutes, saw about a dozen groups and people in all manner of green garb go the couple of blocks from the public tennis courts to the FirstBank intersection. A hundred or so people lined the street to enjoy the annual event.
John and Barbara Achzet wore their green "second annual St. Patrick's Day" T-shirts — which dated from 1987. The parade has missed quite a few years since then but seems to have become an annual fixture once again.
John Achzet, like many who attended the parade, claims some wee connection to Ireland. "I had an uncle who was Irish," he said.
The man's name was Jack Dillon, he said. But when Dillon died, his family learned his first name really was St. John, which pleased Achzet no end. "I'm surrounded by St. John," he said.
Charlie O'Gruber of Tottenham, Ontario, Canada, made a stop on St. John on his way from Tortola to St. Croix just to see the parade. "We heard it was going to be the shortest Irish parade in the United States, if not the world," O'Gruber said.
St. John resident Pat Noone was showing her houseguests the sights, which included a stop in Cruz Bay for the parade. Susie Mahoney of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, and Chris Trudel of Deerfield, Massachusetts, were quite taken with the ambience. "It's St. Patrick's Day with a beat," Mahoney said.
St. John resident Steve Clark, who claims 100 percent Irish ancestry, said he's celebrated St. Patrick's Day ever since he was a boy growing up in Philadelphia. "I speak fluent blarney," he said.
Clark was on hand to see his daughter, Erin, walk the parade route with her dyed-green dog. Indeed, she and a group of friends cut quite a picture all dressed in green with the colorful canine in tow.
The parade also included a few cars carrying people wearin' the green, Debbie Hime and Grace Bartolucci as the unofficial St. Patrick's Day royalty, a contingent of motorcyclists, and a group of vacationing Bostonians making their second appearance at the parade.
Most of the Middle-aged Majorettes, a group of St. John women who delighted the audience in their debut at last year's July 4th Celebration parade, appeared Saturday in new costumes. Shamrocks replaced the Stars and Stripes that adorned the painted-on bikinis on their T-shirts.
Their banner read "Irish and Irie," a connection felt by many on this rainy St. Patrick's Day.

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