YARMOUTH – This year’s St. Patrick’s Parade is a special community event to honor fallen officer, Police Sgt. Sean Gannon, who was killed in the line of duty on April 12, 2018, while serving a warrant in nearby Barnstable.
Parade Committee Chairman Desmond Keogh says that the focus of this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade, “The Spirit of Community,” is to “offer the community an opportunity to heal and feel Sgt. Gannon’s spirit, and love for the parade that he marched in for many years.”
Keogh said he reached out to the sergeant’s family, and they graciously gave approval for the committee to begin making preparations for this year’s parade in honor of Sean and Nero, Sgt. Gannon’s K9 partner that was also injured in the incident. Sgt. Gannon and Nero had been regular participants in the Yarmouth parade, and Keogh thought that the committee should do something in their honor.
The Grand Marshal for this year’s parade is retired Yarmouth Police K9 officer Peter B. McClelland, who trained Nero as a puppy and remained at his side while the dog was recuperating from his injuries. “When we see the Grand Marshal marching, it will hopefully bring some healing--and perhaps even a bit of joy--to the people attending the parade so we can all go on as a community,” Keogh remarked. “Sean would have wanted you to enjoy yourself and make a day of it,” he added. The dedication is for this year’s parade only.
Organizers say the parade will feature participants from a cross-section of the community that has shown “a tremendous outpouring of support” for the commemorative parade, per Keogh. There will be a large police presence in Sgt. Gannon’s honor, including Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross, more than 20 police officers from Ireland, color guard units from across Cape Cod and beyond, and a Boston-area pipe and drum corps. There will also be a group of marchers from Sgt. Gannon’s graduating class at the MBTA Police Academy in Quincy, as well as the local Dennis-Yarmouth Girl’s Field Hockey team that just won their first championship in 30 years.
Sgt. Gannon’s K9 partner Nero will not be participating in the parade this year as he has in past years. However, other K9 officers and their dogs will be attending along the parade route.
In addition to the police presence, the parade will feature 25 to 30 floats, marching bands from area high schools, civic groups and community leaders.
“The list of participants is growing every day,” Keogh said. He noted that last year’s event attracted some 40,000 participants and spectators, and from the buzz that this year’s parade is generating, the turnout could approach 60,000.
“Local businesses and the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce have provided terrific support for the event,” per Keogh. Cape Cod Beer has even scheduled a fundraising event focused on the release of its new Irish pale ale, Shillelagh. The release event will be held Feb.15, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at Cape Cod Beer, 1336 Phinney’s Lane, Hyannis.
Officer Gannon, 32, grew up in New Bedford, graduated from Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth, and was a member of the Stonehill College Campus Police before joining the Yarmouth Police Department in 2010. In addition to being a regular participant in the Cape Cod St. Patrick’s Parade, he was active in civic organizations. Officer Gannon was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant in honor of his dedication to the police force and the community.
ABOUT THE PARADE
The 14th annual Cape Cod St. Patrick’s Parade is Saturday, March 9, beginning at 11 a.m. from Skull Island (at Bass River Sports World on Route 28). It heads westward for 1.9 miles to the Town and Country, near the intersection of Route 28 and Higgins Crowell Road. Parking is available on side streets near the parade route and at the old Yarmouth Drive In, where the Yarmouth Irish Festival will be held. There is no parking at Skull Island, which will be used as a staging area for the parade.
Those who want to register a float or march in the parade can contact organizers via the parade website at capecodstpatricksparade.com.
YARMOUTH IRISH FESTIVAL
The Yarmouth Irish Festival, now in its second year, will also be held on Saturday, March 9, in concert with the parade. It’s at the old Yarmouth Drive In property across from Captain Parker’s Pub on Route 28.
Organizer Patrick McDonough said this year’s festival will be a one-day event, unlike last-year’s weekend-long celebration. But he said the 2019 festival will be bigger and better, thanks to lessons learned during the first event.
“Instead of having three separate tents, the festival will be under one larger tent,” he said. Heaters under the big tent will keep the temperature comfortable, no matter the weather.
“Entertainment will include Irish music from Dreams of Freedom, Keohane and Kenneally, The Silver Spears, The Dooley Brothers, Dreams of Freedom and Fenian Sons. The Boston Gaelic Column, which is marching in the parade, will also perform at the festival,” McDonough said. “Those who want to learn more about police K9 work can watch a demonstration by Yarmouth Police K9 officers during the afternoon,” he said.
Food trucks will feature everything from traditional barbecue to hearty Guinness beef stew.
Admission to the festival is $5 in advance or $10 at the gate. Children under 12 will be admitted free. The festival grounds will open at 10 a.m., and the festival runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
One advantage to the old Yarmouth Drive In site is there’s plenty of free parking, McDonough said. And it’s just a short walk to the parade on Route 28. There will also be two free trolleys stopping at locations along the parade route on Saturday afternoon and evening.
WANT MORE INFO? FOLLOW THESE LINKS
Cape Cod St. Patrick’s Parade website: http://www.capecodstpatricksparade.com/
Yarmouth Irish Festival website: http://yarmouthirishfestival.com/
Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce: https://www.yarmouthcapecod.com
Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce video from last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Grand Marshal Dinner and Irish Festival. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nNSeX95dno
Cape Cod Beer website (with link to fundraiser tickets): https://capecodbeer.com/