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Helena readies for annual St. Patrick’s Day parade

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HELENA - The hamlet of Helena will get an early start to St. Patrick’s Day when they hold their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday.

The line-up will be at 11 a.m. at the corner of Depot Street and state Route 37C, with the parade stepping off at noon. The parade always takes place on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, which falls this year on Monday.

“It’s the first parade of the year. It’s a tradition,” said Robert W. Carter, who organizes the event with his wife, Irene.

He said letters have already gone out to seek participants for the parade.

“A letter to all of our fire departments went out in February because they have their meetings the first of the month,” he said.

Letters also went out to businesses, town officials and state police.

“That’s all been done. We’re ready to go. They come if they can. If they can’t, they can’t,” Mr. Carter said.

He said they welcome everything from floats and fire engines to buckboards and marchers. Registration is not required; participants can show up the day of the parade and take their place in line.

“Anyone is welcome to come or join in the parade with a float or just drive your truck or car advertising your business or organization,” Mr. Carter said. “They will snowmobile in, drive their cars, the whole nine yards.”

This year’s parade will feature a new prince and princess, the children of Leon and Mel Dishaw.

“We usually have a king and queen go through. They’re usually affiliated with cancer and adults. This year the kids ride through. We’ve got their capes,” he said.

In years past, St. Patrick’s Day has brought warm, spring-like temperatures. But that likely won’t be the case this year, with winter hanging on to the very end.

“I don’t remember having snowbanks in the last four years,” Mr. Carter said. “I don’t know what the weather is long-term.”

In addition to the parade, it’s also Customers Appreciation Day at Bobby-I’s and a day of fundraising for the Seaway - River of Hope Relay for Life team. The Relay for Life team will be holding an auction and chili sale, which kicks off immediately following the parade.

“The event is to benefit the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life. It’s a fundraiser for them,” he said.

Two years ago they raised $3,000. Last year’s auction total was $3,200.

“This year I don’t know how it’s going to go with the economy,” Mr. Carter said.

The Carters donate everything except for alcohol as part of the fundraiser.

“All the food is donated. They don’t eat corned beef and cabbage. They eat chili and hot dogs and away they go,” he said.

Live music is also on tap, featuring Out of the Bleu Band with Tim White, Mike White, Matt Gardner, Ray Gardner and Jimmy Gurrola. Alex Deshane, Allen Fukes and Alex Vercoadia will also join in and play, according to Mr. Carter.

The Helena St. Patrick’s Day celebration has been an annual event for more than 40 years. Mr. Carter and his wife have been in charge of it for more than 15 years and turned it into a Relay for Life fundraiser eight years ago.

“In December I’ll get a call asking me, ‘Are you going to do it again?’” he said.

For more information, contact Bob or Irene Carter at 764-5990.

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