A great day for the Irish
Sun shines on annual Paddy Hough Parade
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sunshine kissed the 19th Annual Paddy Hough Parade down Vancouver’s Main Street on Wednesday, a welcome peck for spectators old and new.
Perched on his porch railing with a friend, Dave Kramer watched the festive procession bear straight for his home of 16 years, where Daniels and 23rd streets meet.
The shorts-wearing resident greeted participants he knows, soaking in the sun and the sights.
“Classic Mustangs, fire engines: This is great, couldn’t be better,” Kramer said.
Shiny Fords, yes. Along with masks, marchers and musicians — from bagpipes to kazoos to drummers and middle school bands — to celebrate this year’s theme, “Adventures to Discovery.”
Near the front, Hough Elementary School third-graders sported posters with titles of classic children’s literature.
“That’s a good book!” Laura Meyer said from her folding chair at 21st and Daniels, after she spotted “Ramona the Pest.”
Meyer would know: The former Seattle public librarian spent years running children’s programs. She and her husband, Don, who settled in the nearby Shumway district in 2007, found a glorious green patch of grass from which to look on.
“I love to see children’s parades,” she said, a red camellia blossom tucked in her hair. Last year, the couple sat in the rain, Don noted.
Besides the sunshine, this year’s event brought a first-time star: A 9-foot-tall likeness of Paddy Hough, waving high his only arm.
“What’s this? He seems to be missing an arm,” Don Meyer mused. “I guess that makes him a right-winger.”
Note to the Meyers, and all other newcomers: That would be a correct portrayal of the real Paddy Hough, an 1870s Irish immigrant and early Vancouver educator (pronounced “hock” or “howk,” the latter used locally) and namesake of Hough Elementary School, whose students and staff star in each St. Patrick’s parade.
Indeed, Hough had lost his left arm by the time he landed here.
This steel-and-wood-and chicken wire version was the handiwork of Don LaPierre, a Hough resident and school volunteer. Following a work layoff, he hopes to enter the master’s in teaching program at Washington State University Vancouver.
“This is what I’ve wanted to do, so here I am,” the 48-year-old said. He added final touches to the flatbed trailer Paddy “float” just hours after taking a course final exam at Clark College.
LaPierre planned and built the statue with a friend’s help. “When I found out Paddy Hough had only one arm, I thought it was perfect to have a waving arm,” he explained, laughing.
Ah, but that was an inside job, ably filled by Rose Hagen, fellow school volunteer. For the duration, she stood inside Paddy’s green vest and tugged on a wooden lever.
“Remember: Full range, up and down,” LaPierre directed. “Yo! It turned out so cool!” he exulted, punching the air.
Hagen was happy to remain anonymous, but her fifth-grade son, Kevin, performed with the Hough Bateristas percussion corps that sounded a strong beat near the parade lead.
When the drummers swung down Main Street, the bouncy mood was infectious.
“You hear the music? You going to dance?” Shannon Baugher of Vancouver asked 2-year-old Isaiah Reynolds, son of her partner, Steve Reynolds.
Isaiah settled for watching, absorbed with his young siblings, Larissa Baugher and Julian Reynolds. It was the family group’s first Hough Parade.
“I hadn’t celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in a long time,” Baugher said. But, having moved to the neighborhood, it was time to join in, she said. She even painted her fingernails a bright green on Tuesday night.
A few blocks away, playmates Charlie Palmersheim, 4, Joey Ianello, 2, and Finnley Shaffer, 3, sat curbside, their mothers comfortably reclining in patio chairs.
Charlie was a returnee; the other pair, parade novices. All were decked in emerald garb and beads, the two boys clutching balloons.
After receiving handouts that included candy, a picture book and colorful pens, there was no doubt about next year’s plan.
“It’s a new annual tradition!” declared Dianne Shaffer, Finnley’s mother.