Healdsburg kicks off St. Paddy's Day with 'longest, shortest parade in America' before sunrise

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, March 17, 2023
Healdsburg kicks off St. Paddy's Day with parade before sunrise
The parade was led by a single bagpiper, followed by a sea of green and even a speedo-clad self-proclaimed 'town crier,' all before the sun even came up.

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- On this St. Patrick's Day, a sea of green has taken over the streets of downtown Healdsburg in honor of the Irish holiday.

The small town in wine country kicked off with its annual sunrise parade at 7 a.m.

"It was the longest, shortest parade in America," Ted Calvert, the Grand Marshall of the parade said.

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Led by a single bagpiper, followed by a sea of green, all before the sun even came up.

"I think the early hours are what makes this really special," Mary O'Leary, a Santa Rosa resident said.

What was once a drunken stumble out of a bar, later turned into a city-wide St. Patrick's Day tradition, now going on 27 years.

"It started with some folks kind of rolling out of one of the bars in the morning and cruising around the plaza and now it's been adopted as one of our most treasured community traditions," Ariel Kelley, the Mayor of Healdsburg said.

Parade Grand Marshall Ted Calvert says it's traditions like these that make up the fabric of Healdsburg.

"It's just so much fun and it's small town USA and it's so Healdsburg," Calvert said.

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And first-time parade-goers couldn't get enough.

"Healdsburg celebrates like everything, they go all out for everything but St. Paddy's Day is the one where everybody says, you can't miss this! You can't miss this! So i was like ok ok I'll get up early," Betty Wadsworth, a Healdsburg resident said.

An Irish tradition complete with their own town crier, who wore two layers of speedos, in near-freezing conditions, just for the occasion.

"People of all ages putting on their finest speedos, their green wear and just having some good community fun," Kevin Coady, the self-proclaimed Healdsburg 'Town Crier' said.

All with the goal of waking the entire town up to celebrate.

"Top of the mornin' to you," Andrea O'Leary, a Santa Rosa resident said.

Including, waking up those staying at a hotel overlooking the downtown plaza.

"It is absolutely wonderful it's a good vibe, it's just a good town vibe," Wadsworth, a Healdsburg resident said.

After the parade, the St. Patrick's Day festivities continued in the downtown plaza with live Celtic music, Irish dancers and more from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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