by Jerri Whitner, Student Contributor
For weeks, Dr. Stephen Wilson, along with the dedication and efforts of the students, faculty, and staff have tirelessly worked to make Alice Lloyd College’s third annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade not only a success but one of ALC’s largest parades yet. The parade, held on March 7th, included floats from several ALC clubs and organizations such as the new Track and Field Team and Campus Ministries. Sophomore Grace Baker performed an Irish inspired dance in the parade, and several members of the off–campus community also participated such as the Perry Central High School Color Guard and bagpiper Nathan Mann. The ALC Alumni Office contributed to the festivities by generously supplying student spectators with St. Patrick’s Day themed refreshments, necklaces, and headbands.
As the faculty sponsor of the parade, Dr. Stephen Wilson filled his role of parade supervisor with ease, generating enthusiastic support from the ALC Community. He says of the parade, “Our campus loves the annual St. Patrick’s Parade. With over 100 participants, the event is the largest campus social event between the Valentine’s Day dance and campus springtime events. This year my role was much diminished as students: Lindsay Blanken, Colbi Johnson, Jonathan Taylor, and John Driskill provided virtually all of the planning and execution of the event.” The students helped with promotional advertisements, recruiting parade participants, and decorations. The extensive and avid support of the ALC Community demonstrates how much the parade has grown throughout the years. Originally, the parade began with only one student coordinator, then freshman Lindsay Blanken.
Now as a senior history major, Lindsay’s interest is not only focused on national or world history but also on local Scots-Irish history, which she strives to honor in the parade. However, what evolved into the current parade began as a small march to surprise a former professor with direct Irish heritage. After the first march, Lindsay says, “Dr. Wilson and I were discussing ideas for how to celebrate the next year, and I jokingly suggested a parade. The longer we talked it out, the more plausible the idea became.” When the next year came around, Lindsay found herself as the Parade Director and began preparing early for the event by talking to clubs and organizations about her ideas. Many seemed as excited as she was at the opportunity to participate in a parade that honored their heritage.
Over the past three years, she has added participants and floats to the parade in addition to creating a parade order and helping with decorations. Lindsay completed her parade responsibilities while also balancing her studies and required work-study hours; through this challenge she found, “I do a lot of the planning and envisioning, but the campus as a whole makes it happen. Seeing everyone working together and having fun as a community makes all the hard work worth it.” Although Lindsay is graduating this year, she hopes to return to campus to participate in the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day Parade whether that be doing some of the “grunt work,” as she calls it, or simply spectating the event. Lindsay leaves big shoes for the next Parade Director to fill but also a campus tradition that continues to be enjoyed by the whole community.
For three consecutive years, the ALC community has come together to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade not merely to show off their green apparel, eat candy, or ride in floats. The parade encompasses so much more for the students, faculty, and staff of ALC because it is about the heritage of the region. The Scots-Irish settled in Eastern Kentucky and influenced many of the traditions still carried out in Appalachia. People from other regions may view such traditions as oddities, but through the St. Patrick’s Day Parade ALC students are demonstrating pride for the region they come from and the culture that continues to shape their lives.