Kelly’s St. Patty’s Day Parade Highlights Best of Outer Banks

Parade Honors Spirit of Joy
The South Nags Head Beach Chair Drill Team proving they can perform somewhat precise movements.
The South Nags Head Beach Chair Drill Team proving they can perform somewhat precise movements.

As dawn broke the outlook for the 29th Annual Mike Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade seemed ominous—a driving rain with 20 mph winds would have made it difficult to hold the annual celebrations of all things Irish.

But then the clouds parted and the sun came out. It was windy along the parade route in Nags Head, and the marchers were walking directly into the north wind, but that didn’t change the fact it was a glorious day to be on the Outer Banks.

This year was a little bit special.

The Parade Marshall the Grand Poobah Ernie Bridgers. Ernie was the genius behind the South Nags Head White Trash Marching Band and Beach Chair Drill Team.

If ever there was a group that defined the marvelous insanity of the Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, it was the Beach Chair Drill Team.

Marching to the rat-a-tat-tat of the drum cadence on trash cans, producing an occasional tune with kazoos and actually performing something that resembled a precision drill with beach chairs, Ernie’s creation brought a smile every time.

Unfortunately Ernie passed way last year. But the Drill team was back as good as ever and in a fitting tribute to Ernie, every member of the team carried an image of him as they marched down the street.

Of course the Drill Team is just one part of what is a remarkable and wonderful tribute to the spirit of the Outer Banks.

There is the unicycle riding trumpet player who jumps rope—although this year the wind seemed to be giving his rope jumping fits. There are the dogs dressed up in the finest green. And antique cars…fire trucks, and floats of every description.

Billed as the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in eastern North Carolina, it maybe it is….probably is…but no matter what there cannot be another one the is so much fun.

Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade-An OBX Tradition

The giant crab from Jennette's Pier.
The giant crab from Jennette’s Pier.

The 27th Annual Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade did not disappoint. Of course, Mike Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration never seems to disappoint.

In so many ways it’s the epitome of Outer Banks entertainment . . . a little bit whack, a lot of fun, but very much designed as something the whole family can enjoy.

There is always the question, of course, just what is the best part of the parade and that is such a subjective question that there is no way to answer it.

For sheer shock value there is the giant crab sitting atop the Jennette’s Pier

vehicle. Giant can mean different things to different people, but when a crab is so large it blots out the sun, that is huge.

The giant crab was not the only memorable moment from the parade. The kids from Dare County Parks and Rec really seemed to be enjoying themselves. It’s hard to tell how the dogs felt about the whole dressing up idea, but there’s something about a dog wearing the latest in St. Patrick’s Day fashion that brings a smile.

If there is a theme to the parade it seems to be, “Be yourself,” so an occasional politician rides by waving to the crowd, but there are also statements on issues that concern Outer Banks residents. Not the Answer NC, a local group that opposes offshore drilling, had a strong showing with lots of kids as well as adults holding signs as they walked the parade route.

The Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become the kickoff for the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach, which begins on Thursday. Don’t forget the Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates Barbecue and Wings Showdown is this Friday at the Nags Head Event Site.