FEB. 9, 2018 - VOL. 54 No. 5

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St. Patrick's Day Parade to be held March 17

Patrick Murphy named Grand Marshal

The 39th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade will be held Saturday, March 17 in downtown Sioux Falls.

The St. Patrick's Day Extravaganza Committee plans the parade with support from the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Known as the "people's parade" since it was started by Sylvia Henkin in 1980, it typically draws thousands of people from around the region to watch an eclectic ensemble that includes individuals, groups, businesses and especially Irish families.

Patrick Michael Murphy, who has marched with his family in 37 parades since 1980, will take the lead as Grand Marshal of the 2018 parade.

Murphy grew up in the Cathedral neighborhood of Sioux Falls as part of a strong Irish-Catholic family. The Murphy clan marches in the parade each year, often with upwards of 40 family members.

the 39th annual
st. patrick's day parade

Registration is required.

For the first time this year, all parade participants must register in advance. Complete the form at

Deadline to register is March 10.

Murphy, 71, is a descendant of the Murphy and O'Brien families who moved from Ireland to southwest Wisconsin in the mid 1850s. His father, Patrick Owen, was born and raised in Salem, South Dakota. His mother, Eileen, also Irish, was an O'Hollaren and was born and raised in Rock Rapids, Iowa. After Patrick Owen returned from serving in World War II, they married and settled into the Cathedral neighborhood, raising three sons and one daughter.

Murphy remembers his neighborhood as a "little enclave of Irish" that celebrated on March 17 – although more with roast beef "because we were not that keen on corned beef." His father wanted St. Patrick's Day to be "more of a holy day where we remembered our ancestors, honored our traditions and history and sang Irish songs," Murphy said.

Murphy thinks of St. Patrick's Day as "fun, an excuse for an annual family reunion, to tell stories and just be Irish. We always look forward to St. Patrick's Day as another Christmas."

Murphy is a graduate of the University of South Dakota and an Army Infantry veteran who served 14 months in Vietnam. He then worked for Minnehaha County as a juvenile probation officer, assistant director of the welfare department and finally as a deputy sheriff. He and his wife, Judy, have three adult children, Shannon Branch, Michael and Patrick Jr., and nine grandchildren.

Events on March 17 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.

For the first time, advance registration will be required in order to participate in the parade. Previously, registration was available but not required. Organizers say that parade participation has grown to the point where mandatory registration is needed to ensure coordination and safety. Participants must register online at by March 10. There continues to be no fee to participate.

Placement in the parade is on a first come, first served basis and is at the discretion of parade officials. Each entry must have some kind of Irish theme. Each participant over 16 must purchase and wear an official St. Patrick's Day Parade button. The $3 button helps cover the costs of the parade and supports Special Olympics South Dakota.

Buttons are available in advance at the Chamber of Commerce office, 200 N. Phillips Ave., numerous businesses throughout the community and from Special Olympics volunteers. They can also be purchased the day of the parade at the start of the parade. Since 1982, more than $150,000 has been raised for Special Olympics of South Dakota and other non-profits.

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 from Winnipeg. 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.

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