CONYERS -- Millions of Americans can claim to be of Irish descent, but even if your ancestors don't hail from the Emerald Isle, you're welcome to take part in Conyers' annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
Fondly referred to as the "World's Fastest Growing St. Patrick's Day Parade," the event is set for Friday, March 15, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Olde Town Conyers. A Conyers tradition since 1985, the parade is sponsored by the Conyers Main Street Program.
Leading the way this year will be Grand Marshal Mayor Randy Mills and Honorary Grand Marshals Bill Rogers, Bill Spivey, Marty Jones and Charles Walker. Rogers, Spivey and Jones are former Conyers City Council members, and Walker is a former mayor.
Bagpiper Robert Harwell will accompany the marshals, playing classic Irish tunes.
Local business and school groups will also be represented in the parade, along with anyone else who would like to join in. The parade route -- all of two blocks -- is guaranteed not to be too taxing.
Those who plan to participate should gather at the corner of Main and Center streets prior to 4:30 p.m. There is no cost to take part in the event. No vehicles are allowed in the parade. The parade route ends at the Olde Town Pavilion.
Once the walking is done, Irish and Irish-wannabes alike are welcome to celebrate with live Irish entertainment and refreshments at the pavilion. A St. Patrick's Day Parade king and queen will be crowned. In addition, in a new feature of the event this year, a winner will be named in the adult Leprechaun Lookalike Contest. Everyone is encouraged to take part in the wearin' o' the green by donning their best and most creative Irish costumes.
Following the parade is the 4th Annual World's Shortest Endurance Run sponsored by the Rotary Club of Rockdale County. The run, .1 mile in length from the Conyers Welcome Center to The Pointe on Railroad Street, begins with a shotgun start at 5 p.m. Participants who enter will receive a T-shirt. Registration is still open for those interested in participating. For more information, visit www.rockdalerotary.org or contact Tim Baker at 678-614-7374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Businesses in Olde Town will offer deals on merchandise as well as food and drink specials for parade attendees. Live music and traditional Irish dishes will be available in select restaurants until midnight. Commercial Street will be closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 p.m.-midnight for live entertainment and Irish fare. Olde Town restaurants including The Whistle Post, Celtic Tavern, The Pointe and Las Flores will have specials all weekend as part of the St. Patrick's Day festivities.
"The one-of-a-kind events like the parade and fun run truly make St. Patrick's Day weekend in Olde Town the place to be," said Main Street Manager Monica Coffin. "We look forward to a great weekend saluting the Irish in our community's unique way."
For additional information please call the Conyers Welcome Center at 770-602-2606.
Even though St. Patrick's Day falls on Sunday, March 17, this year, a survey by the National Retail Federation indicates that the average person will spend $35.27 on green attire, decor for the home and office, and festive food and drinks. Total spending for this non-gift-giving holiday is expected to grow to $4.7 billion.
St. Patrick's Day marks the anniversary of the saint's death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed St. Patrick's Day as a religious holiday for more than 1,000 years.