Hamilton’s ‘iconic’ St. Patrick’s Day festivities celebrate community, heritage

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Festivities on St. Patrick’s Day along Riverfront Plaza have begun establishing roots, organizers say, as a “uniquely Hamilton” tradition.

This Sunday morning, the second annual Ohio’s shortest parade will be led by co-grand marshals Hamilton Planning Director Liz Hayden and Hamilton Assistant to the City Manager Mallory Greenham. It will be followed by the third annual O’Dora Dash.

Co-creator of the events, Ann Marie Cilley, owner of The Casual Pint on Riverfront Plaza, said St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of her favorite times of the year, especially as she’s grown older.

“It’s not a green beer day for me, per se, it’s a celebration of heritage, history and hard work,” said the second-generation Irish-American. “That’s how I best sum up my grandparents and my parents.”

The day is also a celebration of community, Cilley said, and St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to bring people together.

“I’ve seen what Cincinnati has done and I know what Hamilton is capable of doing, so why not have something that brings the people in Hamilton together, showcases Hamilton?” she said.

Ohio’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade — the world’s shortest is in Hot Springs, Arkansas — is 150 yards, and Cilley quipped she had worries staging would one year be longer than the actual parade. The parade steps off at 10 a.m., ahead of the dash.

The O’Dora Dash takes its name from the city’s DORA district, the designated outdoor refreshment area that allows people to drink an alcoholic beverage outside of a participating establishment in a branded cup. The dash is a 0.1K race where people can have a “cup of whatever” in a DORA cup, and the goal is to spill the least amount of liquid.

There will be some “fun surprises” for this year’s O’Dora’s Dash, Cilley said, adding it will be “something to keep the event fun and fresh and to keep people out on the course a little bit longer, and enjoying themselves. The hope is each year we add a little bit of ‘zip’ and keep the word of mouth going from year to year.”

Registration for the parade is online HERE.

O’Dora Dash registration can be done day of at Casual Pint or ahead of time using this link. Half of the registration fees go to the Hamilton Community Foundation’s general fund as “a way to give back to one of the organizations that does so much to support Hamilton and the other organizations that support Hamilton,” Cilley said.

Hamilton Community Foundation President and CEO John Guidugli agreed the day in Hamilton is “about community,” and said funds raised from this “iconic parade” will “ensure we can continue to meet the evolving needs of our community.”

“This is an opportunity to have a great time for a great cause, and we’re honored to be part of it,” he said.

The parade will begin on Riverfront Plaza near Municipal Brew Works (MBW), and the brewery will have that morning the 8th annual tapping of its St. Patrick’s Day Irish stout.

“There’s no better beer for St. Patrick’s Day than an Irish dry stout, ” MBW co-owner Jim Goodman said.

Every year MBW produces Laoch (pronounced LAY-oak), which is Celtic for “Hero,” in honor of Hamilton’s first responders. They started brewing this stout with IAFF Local 20 “because we’re in an old firehouse and it was kind of our way to pay tribute to the history of our location, and to keep them involved in this building,” said Goodman.

“There are some folks that came in to help brew that are retired firefighters that spent their career in what we now call our brewery home. It was fun to do that with them,” he said, adding the stout will be on tap at both MBW locations.

The parade will end in front of Tano’s Bistro, whose general manager, Tyler McCleary, said they’ll roll out a “Roll Your Own Old-Fashioned” drink. A person would roll three dice, and each one corresponds with one of six types of bourbon, six types of bitters and six styles of simple syrup, the ingredients of an old-fashioned.

“There are a ton of different combination possibilities, and they’ll all be great,” McCleary said. “There are no substitutions because the idea is to have people expand their horizons with such a versatile, delicious cocktail.”

Though last year’s weather didn’t stop people from enjoying the events, Cilley does hope Mother Nature does cooperate. According to the forecast, it’s expected to be cold but dry Sunday morning, with rain predicted to move in that afternoon.

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