First St. Patrick's Day Parade a Hit Submitted: 03/18/2012
RHINELANDER - It was a sea of green in downtown Rhinelander today as the city held its first ever St. Patrick's Day parade.

"For the first time, I think the weather's holding, it's a beautiful March, and it's a beautiful day for a parade," says Rhinelander's Mayor, Richard Johns.

March's weather can bring anything from snow to rain, but for St. Patrick's Day Mother Nature gave us plenty of sunshine.

The first annual St. Patrick's Day parade saw a wealth of green, a ton of beer, a little campaigning, and of course, plenty of little leprechauns. The town welcomed the parade with open arms.

"I think it's a great idea," says Grace Hagen, from Rhinelander.

"I think it's just great. We have really great weather, which you never know what we're going to get in Northern Wisconsin," says Brenda O'Rourke, Marketing Coordinator at the Rhinelander Brewing Company.

"This all came about from a group of people who have been talking about this for ten years. This year they came to us at downtown Rhinelander and said 'We want to do a parade'," says Sue Bessert, Executive Director of Downtown Rhinelander, Inc.

Forty two entrants took to the street in the parade; some to support local business....

"This car behind me is the distributor for Rhinelander beer. They had this car made up with these graphics," says O'Rourke.

Some came to raise money for a good cause....

"We saw the plight of Maddie McGlaughlin, who has Leukemia. She's five years old, being treated now in Milwaukee. We decided to do a fundraiser once we got all our family together," says Hagen.

The streets were packed and the pubs overflowing. The thousands of people who came out today are a good indicator the parade was a success.

"I truly want to thank folks for coming downtown, for participating in the parade. It really told us resoundingly that folks really want to have a St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Rhinelander," says Bessert.

The fun didn't stop there. The pub crawl lasted until six Saturday with 16 local bars participating.

Story By: Lyndsey Stemm

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