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MAR. 9, 2017 - VOL. 52 No. 6

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St. Patrick's Day Parade to be held Saturday, March 18

Larry Fuller named Grand Marshal

The 38th annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Sioux Falls will depart from recent tradition and will be held on Saturday, March 18, this year.

The St. Patrick's Day Extravaganza Committee, which plans the parade with support from the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, has held the parade on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day since 2009. This year, though, it will be the day after St. Patrick's Day, providing a two-day celebration.

Larry Fuller, a retired newspaper publisher who was on hand at the start of the Sioux Falls St. Patrick's Day parade and continues to support its promotion, will be the Grand Marshal of the Parade.

Fuller, 75, arrived in Sioux Falls in 1977 and served first as executive editor and then later as publisher of the Argus Leader. He and his wife Suzanne, a Sioux Falls native, moved to Hawaii in 1993 for his job, but returned to Sioux Falls upon retirement in 2009. Fuller is an experienced writer, communicator, strategic facilitator and business leader. He is well-known for his community service work, including leadership of Forward Sioux Falls, Downtown Development Corp., Children's Inn, and Sioux Empire United Way, to name just a few.

Fuller's Irish heritage is traced to his great-grandfather, James Carnahan who lived in northwestern Ohio and was descended from Irish folk from northern Ireland.

It was during his early years in Sioux Falls that Fuller participated in informal meetings around Sylvia Henkin's kitchen table, discussing the idea of a St. Patrick's Day parade. The inaugural parade was held in 1979, and was guided through the first few years with support from a small group of business and community leaders that included Fuller.

Fuller says the parade began partly as a way to build community. "It was a lot of fun - a big celebration! It really helped to bring people together." As publisher of the Argus Leader, Fuller saw to it that the newspaper's masthead on St. Patrick's Day was changed to Argus O'Leader and appeared in green.

Originally, the parade was held on the actual St. Patrick's Day, but now it is always on a Saturday - a change that has allowed it evolve into more of a family event. Fuller shares that he enjoys selling parade buttons with his grandchildren each year. This year, the entire Fuller family will be marching in the parade. Daughter Beth Jensen and her husband Mark, and children Nicholas and Katie; son Mike Fuller and his wife Krista, and their children, Sophia and Elise; and Ginger Smith, Suzanne's sister.

Known as the "people's parade," the event typically draws thousands of people from around the Sioux Falls region to watch an eclectic ensemble that includes individuals, groups, business and - especially - Irish families.

Events are kicked off at 11 a.m. with the traditional painting of the shamrock at 9th Street and N. Phillips Avenue. The parade takes off from Phillips Avenue and 13th Street at 2 p.m. and ends around 5th Street. Streets adjacent to the route are closed at 1:30 p.m. and parking is not allowed on Phillips Avenue starting late Saturday morning.

There is no entry fee to participate in the parade but each entry must have some kind of Irish theme and each participant over 16 years old must purchase and wear an official St. Patrick's Day Parade button. The $3 button helps cover the costs of the parade and support Special Olympics South Dakota and Ronald McDonald House.

Buttons are available in advance at the Chamber of Commerce office, numerous businesses throughout the community and from Special Olympics and Ronald McDonald House volunteers. They can also be purchased the day of the parade at the start of the parade. Since 1982, more than $125,000 has been raised for Special Olympics of South Dakota. Placement in the parade is on a first come, first served basis and is at the discretion of parade officials.

Sponsorships from Sanford Health, Avera Health, Holiday Inn City Centre and Xcel Energy help underwrite the costs of bringing the Khartum Temple Pipes and Drums, a Shrine unit from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They have performed in the parade almost since the start and make guest appearances in local schools, nursing homes and hospitals in the days leading up to the parade.

Details on the parade and the registration can be found online on the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce website at siouxfallschamber.com/stpatricksday.cfm.


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