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St. Paddy's Day Bicycle Parade & Festival Celebrates Irish Heritage

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Andy Doyle
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In Ireland, shamrocks are worn as a religious symbol.

March is Irish-American Heritage Month, and St. Patrick's Day is March 17. To celebrate, the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce is hosting the annual St. Paddy's Day Bicycle Parade & Festival from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Kiroli Park.

The parade and festival celebrate the rich Irish heritage present in the Northeast Louisiana region. The event features live Irish music from Emerald Accent. There are costume contests for all ages, as well as pets and bikes. The bike parade rolls around noon.

The event celebrates St Patrick's Day, also called St. Paddy's Day. In the Irish language, the name Patrick is actually spelled "Padraigh." St. Paddy's Day comes from Paddy, the nickname for someone named Padraigh.

Originally, shamrocks were blessed in a church ceremony known as the Blessing of the Shamrocks.

True Irish celebratory fashion does not involve drinking green beer or wearing all green in fear of being pinched, but rather something simpler. The "Wearing of the Greens" comes from a tradition in Ireland of pinning shamrocks to their clothes. "Many people wear the green small bunch of shamrocks on their right breast rather than wearing green clothing to signify their Irish heritage," says Tom McCandlish, Membership Director at the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce and member of Emerald Accent. "It has a traditional connection with St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the Fifth Century."

The St. Paddy's Bicycle Parade & Festival is March 17 at Kiroli Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information is available here.