Blue skies met a sea of green Friday afternoon in Vancouver, as students from Hough Elementary School convened for the long-awaited return of the Paddy Hough Parade, a St. Patrick’s Day tradition.
Friday’s parade was the first since 2019, with the COVID-19 pandemic prompting Vancouver Public Schools leaders and other organizers to hold off on the event the last three years.
The excitement for the parade’s return was met with clear skies and, perhaps, the warmest temperatures Vancouver has seen so far in 2023. Groups of students, organized by grade, began at Hough Elementary School and snaked through the neighborhood and down Main Street, cheering and giving out necklaces, gift packages and candy.
The parade honors Patrick “Paddy” Hough, an Irish immigrant and educator in Vancouver. His legacy lives on as the namesake school and surrounding neighborhood — not to mention, in the form of, young children beaming with glee and their equally excited parent running alongside seeking the perfect photo.
Though a longtime tradition for Vancouver, the parade was a first for Hough principal Jessica Graham.
“I had never done one of these before. I was so worried a student would run away or a dog would get loose; but nope, it went fantastic,” Graham said. “And what an amazing community for it, too.”
Hough neighborhood residents, too, relished the opportunity for entertainment, setting up lawn chairs and cheering on the students as they walked by.
“We’ve definitely been looking forward to this,” said Jason VanHandel, a resident and Vancouver parent who watched the parade. “The first year we moved here, we didn’t even know what was happening. It’s really great that it’s back.”
Students take Hough legacy to heart
A group of high school students from Battle Ground Public Schools’ Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education — better known as CASEE — took part in the parade, too, handing out potatoes and kale sprouts to surprised onlookers.
The school’s dedication to hands-on learning in agriculture and environmental preservation features several connections to Hough’s personal legacy.
Hough set aside money in his will to establish an agriculture-focused high school in Clark County. The high school didn’t materialize, but his endowment now awards annual educational grants to support agricultural programs at the CASEE and elsewhere in Southwest Washington.
“It’s really cool to be a part of this, and it’s been such a wonderful day,” said Chris Collmer, a CASEE teacher accompanying the students. “It’s funny to see the kids’ expressions as they hand out potatoes to people, too.”
Students involved said they viewed the event as a fun way to raise awareness for the school’s program and share some of their work, in the form of small vegetables.
“It’s always good to give back to the community,” said Caleb McLachlan, a senior at the school.