This Saturday around noon I will drive over the George Bush Boulevard bridge on my way to Mary’s house in Lake Ida and there will be people on bikes wearing green hats, maybe a truck with balloons, perhaps even the famous Sail Inn short bus decked out in front of the bar, ready to roll its way downtown to the 44thannual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
I have been going to this parade since I moved here 21 years ago, first with my old friend Lee Bennett (who has moved to Belize now and is big time living the dream) and later, with Mary Branch, who grew up in Delray and knows a thing or two about being Irish. Lee and Mary and a million more like us know that the late Maury Powers, who owned the venerable Powers Lounge, started this parade in 1968 out of sheer frustration that no one in Delray was honoring St. Paddy’s Day; his response was to dress up in tails and a top hat and carry a pig down Atlantic Avenue, which made perfect sense.
Since then, his children and grandchildren and people throughout the community have maintained and expanded the tradition. There were never many marching bands—usually bar floats (Boston’s was always a winner), lots of bagpipers, the Man of Steam van, and a few fire engines and kids on unicycles. We would always stand in front of Powers Lounge, even after Maury died in 1996, and after Powers closed a few years later.
The last couple of years the parade has been dedicated to firefighters so firefighting units from all over the country—and the world—are descending on Delray to march in the parade this Saturday (there’s even a pipes and drum band from Queensland, Australia in the line-up.)
Thousands more attend every year and the parade is always a little longer, a little more elaborate.
But not for us. We always drag the same cooler with us, wear the same goofy hats and beads, park in the same secret space, and set up camp at the same place.
And that is in front of Powers Lounge. We know it’s gone, but we know where it used to be, by the tracks, where Buddha SkyBar is now.
And we raise a cold beer to Maury Powers, wait like kids for the parade to start and get goose bumps when the bagpipes go by. It’s a great day to be in Delray Beach.
I wouldn’t miss it for anything.
The Delray St. Patrick’s Day parade starts at 2 p.m. but the whole “festival” will take place from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the front lawn at Old School Square.