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Students, faculty and staff participated in Cleveland's St. Patrick's Day Parade
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The Other Notre Dame Can Be Irish Too

An estimated 300,000 people were all eyes and ears for Notre Dame, when NDC students on top of a Blarney Castle float and the College’s marching band playing its version of two Irish tunes paraded down Superior Avenue for Cleveland’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Based on the spectators’ cheers, they liked what they saw – students, faculty and staff, sporting green NDC sweatshirts, hats and wigs, surrounding the Blarney Castle, which vaguely resembled the tower of the College’s Administration Building; and liked what they heard – the marching band playing the Irish classic “Danny Boy” and “An Irish Party in Third Class” from the movie “Titanic.”

In fact, a group of judges stationed along the parade route liked the band’s performance so much that it awarded Director Bill Neater and his students two first-place awards. The band won the “Parents of the Murphy Irish Dancers Trophy” for best school band in the parade and the “Local 93 Cleveland Firefighters Grant” for best school, non-school or bagpipe band.

Notre Dame students marched in the 2011 St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Notre Dame students marched in the 2011 St. Patrick's Day Parade.

“It was really nice to see all the people downtown cheering for us and screaming Notre Dame,” band member Rosie Panza said. “I think it definitely helped us play better, which made it more fun and enjoyable.”

Fellow band member Kristen Hermann was equally impressed. “Marching in the parade was awesome,” she said. “Growing up in the Westpark neighborhood of Cleveland, I knew what a big deal the parade was. Being a part of this big Cleveland event was a pretty cool experience.”

Cleveland’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has a long tradition that dates back to 1867, when it debuted on the West Side. It has since moved to the East Side, spanning from East 18th Street to Public Square along Superior Avenue. The parade is one of the largest St. Patrick Day parades in the country and is the largest canvassing downtown Cleveland.

Notre Dame College hadn’t participated in the event for a number of years. But in late February, it was issued a formal invitation to march in the parade, which includes over 125 different groups from the Greater Cleveland area.

Students and staff began building the College’s version of a Blarney Castle, a medieval stronghold near Cork, Ireland, that same month. Their detailed work included building the castle’s tower with its surrounding river, rock formations and even cows.

“I was really impressed with the dedication of the float-building committee,” Director of Student Activities Becky Barger said. “We have some terrific students at NDC, who worked with the invaluable maintenance department two nights per week for two months to meet the parade deadline. I look forward to working with our students on next year’s float.”

The marching band earned two first-place honors for its performance during the parade.
The marching band earned two first-place honors for its performance during the parade.

Meanwhile, the marching band prepared its two songs specifically for the parade in just four rehearsals that spanned from the end of spring break to St. Patrick’s Day.

“The experience is indicative of the reinvigorated spirit that runs through Notre Dame College these days,” Neater said. “From the development of the band program to an integrated student activities organization, Notre Dame is a Cleveland success story, and this is one more example of the traction and influence we have in the region.”

But the experience was also an example that “the other Notre Dame,” as NDC is sometimes called in reference to the University of Notre Dame, can be Irish too – if at least for one day of the year.

Further information on the Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade can be found at www.ClevelandsIrishParade.org. Additionally, media from NDC’s participation in the parade can be found on the band website at NotreDameCollege.edu/band.

By Christian Taske ’07, editor and writer at Notre Dame College.