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News / Clark County News

Blue skies, seas of green at annual Hough Parade in Vancouver

Elementary students, staff celebrate themes of belonging, community

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 15, 2024, 3:03pm
6 Photos
Participants of all ages greet spectators along the route of the annual Paddy Hough Parade on Friday afternoon, March 15, 2024.
Participants of all ages greet spectators along the route of the annual Paddy Hough Parade on Friday afternoon, March 15, 2024. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Rumor has it that it never rains on the Paddy Hough Parade.

Like 2023 and countless years before — the rumor proved true Friday, as Hough Elementary Students took to the streets for the neighborhood tradition. Donning shades of green, students and teachers made their annual traipse through the Hough Neighborhood and down a stretch of Vancouver’s Main Street.

Delighted onlookers watching from porches and lawns cheered on the students and tossed various treats and candies their way.

“It was amazing. We got so much candy,” said Quentin, a Hough third-grader.

He and his friends generously offered one of their newly acquired treats — a chocolate cold coin — to The Columbian team. The best candy he got on the parade, he said, was a pack of Smarties.

“It turned my bad day into a good day,” he said.

A lesson in history

The annual parade is held in honor of the school’s namesake: Patrick “Paddy” Hough.

12 Photos
Parade participants bring their own shade as they relax in their car before the start of the annual Paddy Hough Parade on Friday afternoon, March 15, 2024.
2024 Paddy Hough Parade Photo Gallery

Hough came to Vancouver from Ireland amid that country’s devastating potato famine in the mid-19th century. Legend has it, he quickly became known in Vancouver as a dedicated teacher and voice for equality.

In 1941 — 16 years after Hough’s death — the new elementary school just north of downtown Vancouver was named in his honor. The parade has been held annually since 1991 — with the exception of a recent three-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s just joyful, it’s such a great way for the students to connect with their community. There’s teaching moments at every level,” said Anne McQuary, a paraeducator at Hough since 2007.

The parade comes on the heels of Vancouver Public Schools announcing $35 million in budget cuts earlier this week. McQuary said the event is a nice breath of fresh air to celebrate the kids.

“The kids do a lot of preparation themselves; we just talk with kids who might be nervous,” she said. “After the parade, those nervous kids are thrilled, happy, exhausted. They’re going to sleep really well tonight.”

This year’s theme for the parade is “We All Bee-Long.” The concept, which students helped develop, combines lessons in how bees are important to local ecosystems and the districtwide goal of finding community.

“We’re focusing on fostering a sense of belonging here, especially at Hough,” said principal Jessica Graham.

This is Graham’s second parade. When she began her tenure as principal, she said she was made well aware of how important the parade is to the students and neighborhood.

Graham was dressed as an inflatable Shamrock – a costume that received nonstop acclaim from students and staff alike.

“I bought this on Amazon, this is mine,” she said, laughing. “When we have our pizza party, I break out the inflatable pizza outfit. On testing days, I dress as an inflatable pencil.”

Behind the swaths of Hough students in the parade every year is a line of vintage cars driven by members of the 70-year-old Slo Poks Car Club — many of whom were Hough students in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

Marcia Miller and her husband, Bob, drove a gleaming red 1964 Corvette. The couple are Hough residents who have driven in the parade as long as they can remember — at least 10 years, according to Bob.

Every year, the Millers donate school supplies to Hough students, they said.

“It’s a neighborhood party,” Marcia Miller said. “You see all these people along the parade route sitting and having picnics. It’s a lovely family thing.”

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