A very green idea struck WBRZ’s Pat Shingleton in 1985.
During a visit to his hometown, he and his wife, Mabyn, watched the St. Patrick’s Day Parade line up on the Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is said that meteorologist Shingleton then thought out loud, “We should have something like this in Baton Rouge.”
One year later, the first ‘Wearin’ of the Green’ parade pranced its way along City Park Golf Course to Zee Zee Gardens. Three years later Grey Hammett joined the Shingletons as a lead planner, and two years later the Hundred Oaks route that most parade-goers know became the official map of the shamrock experience.
Now in its 30th year, growth is ever-evident, and according to Mabyn Shingleton, it’s the reason they’re still wearin’ green annually.
In fact, so much has changed that Shingleton said Hammett asked to see the parade from the front this year, so he is the 2015 Grand Marshal.
“We have recognized a multitude of individuals as Grand Marshals for our parade, none more deserving than Robert Grey Hammett,” Pat Shingleton announced in a press release.
Aside from seeing a lead planner at the head of the parade this year, other added amenities include hotel discounts for tourists at The Radisson Inn and Hotel Indigo, as well as a deal from CATS to keep the parade area free from car congestion.
Offering three shuttle options and the capacity to park a few thousand cars, the transit system, dubbed the Shamrock Shuttle, will use three routes to drop off patrons at one of three locations for a $4 (cash only) round-trip fee. Uber will also be gifting a $20 discount via coupon code STPADDYSBR.
Mabyn Shingleton also said the parade has a fairly new website www.paradegroup.com. Patrons can navigate through the site for history, sponsorship, shuttle information, a route map, updates and even find additional means of entertainment on parade day.
Shingleton noted that since technology is the way of the times, she was able to host all pre-parade planning, including safety trainings, online.
“We are continually adding to the website,” Mabyn Shingleton said. “Safety meetings used to be such a lengthy process, but we were able to do everything online and it’s just as secure as it ever was when we did it in person.”
Shingleton said it’s very important to the planners that their parade is family-friendly. Utilizing shamrock ratings, krewes are graded similar to the structure of star ratings. The higher the rating received, the more likely it is a krewe will be re-invited for following years and justly, the lower the rating, the more likely a group will be asked not to return.
“It’s a safe, safe, safe, safe parade,” Shingleton said. “We go through big extremes. We have parade marshals marching up and down the street — they’re not just sitting there watching — they’re taking notes. We want it as clean as possible.”
Shingleton said that the vast majority of the krewes are compliant to the point that if something even appears that it may lower their shamrock rating, they will stray away from it.
Long advanced from the walking parade it once was, this year will feature 72 floats as well as marchers.
Featured high schools are Baker, Belaire, Tara, Helen Cox, McMain, Opelousas, Plaquemine and Wossman. The Louisiana Leadership Band under the direction of Nathan B. Haymer will also march.