For the second consecutive year, the luck of the Irish isn't shining on Baton Rouge's St. Patrick's parade, The Wearin' of the Green.
The 2020 parade was canceled a year ago Friday, out of health and safety concerns as the coronavirus spread to Louisiana. Ten days later, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a state-at-home order.
Although Edwards moved the state into Phase 3 of the reopening process last week, the ongoing restrictions on outdoor gatherings larger than 250 people again rule out the parade, traditionally held on a Saturday in March close to the actual St. Patrick's Day, March 17.
Thousands, many of whom don four-leaf clover attire, usually pack the parade route along Acadian Thruway, Hundred Oaks Avenue, South Eugene and Terrace streets and Perkins Road. Green-tinged beverages flow at yard parties and bars as everyone becomes Irish for the day.
In lieu of the huge celebration, parade organizers, in conjunction with WBRZ, Channel 2, have put together a retrospective TV special, "Wearin' of the Green," airing at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
“With so much sadness from the impact of the virus, The Parade Group, LLC, in conjunction with WBRZ, Channel 2, will televise a little happiness with a unique look at the parade," said Pat Shingleton, group president and parade co-founder.
Shingleton, who recently retired as chief weather forecaster at WBRZ, and news anchor Michael Shingleton will be hosts for the hour-long show.
Highlights will include:
- A look back at the parade's history, how it started, how it's evolved and grown over the years, the times the city-parish tried shutting down the party and moving it, and other highs and lows.
- An interview with Todd Graves, the 35th parade grand marshal. The Raising Cane's founder will talk about the Emerald Ball, which did happen in 2020, and how during the pandemic, the restaurant has fed frontline healthcare workers, donated $500,000 to hospitals, and more.
- Another interview, this one with three former parade grand marshals who live in Killarney, Ireland. They'll talk about the pandemic in Ireland, and what they remember and cherish about their experiences in Baton Rouge.
- An explanation of the Wearin' of the Green 5K Shamrock Run, held virtually in 2020, and the charities that have benefited.
- An overview of several St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the United States and around the world — the shortest parade, the longest parade, what turns green for the day, and the first parade in the 1600s.
- An examination of the three days leading up to the postponement of the 2020 parade.
The special will re-air on WBRZ+ at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Shingleton said the next Wearin' of the Green parade is expected to roll on Saturday, March 19, 2022.