The cold did not stop spectators from getting out to support the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The parade is held in order to commemorate St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. The event also celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.
Parade chairman Hugh Spellman made sure everything ran smoothly. Spellman recognizes the role the parade plays in keeping the spirit of St. Patrick alive.
“The parade is a way to help recognize St. Patrick and Irish Americans that have come before,” Spellman said.
Spellman says his favorite part of the parade is watching everyone have a good time and seeing the variety of groups registered for the parade.
Spectator Brooke Morehead, along with her family, has been coming to the parade for the last five years. She believes it is important to expose her children to other cultures and heritages.
Morehead came to the parade to not only support her husband, who is part of the local fire department and would take part in the parade, but also to support the community as a whole.
“It’s a big community event, a good time to be with the Omaha community and come together to celebrate the community’s diversity,” Morehead said.
For Lori and Chris Rewczuk, this year marks the third time they have attended the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“It’s always a lot of fun, the kids enjoy it, we like to meet friends here and together celebrate St.Patrick’s Day,” Lori Rewczuk said.
Although the Rewczuks are not Irish, to them, attending the St. Patrick’s Day parade has become a family tradition. They also recognize the importance of experiencing different cultures.
St. Patrick is recognized globally as the patron saint of Ireland, and he is also the patron saint of engineers. Chris Rewczuk keeps that in mind when celebrating the day because he himself is an engineer.
The Rewczuks also have a special reason to celebrate the occasion. On the official date of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, daughter Brooklyn turned 3 years old.
A different kind of rainbow led to the pot of gold Saturday at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Thirty-five to 40 supporters and members of Heartland Pride marched proudly though the streets, a massive rainbow flag trailing behind them.
Heartland Pride is an organization whose mission is “celebrating and promoting the history, diversity, and future prosperity of the LGBTQIA community of the heartland.” It is a non-profit organization that strives to raise awareness of and support for members of the LGBT community. It gives up to $5,000 in scholarships each year and hosts the Tom Mahony Pride Prom, as well as holding its annual pride festival in Aksarben Village
Saturday was Heartland Pride’s first time in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but the organization showed the spirit of seasoned marchers. Participants wore green hats and necklaces. Caleb Edmonson donned a green suit and leprechaun ears while the current president of Heartland Pride, Christina Arellano, wore a hat complete with two ginger braids.
“We are trying to work on our branding,” Arellano said. “People seem to think that Heartland Pride is just one big annual party . . . so we are trying to get our name out there as a non-profit organization and not just our annual festival.”
Scores of people and their children lined the curb of the parade route, which began at 15th and Harney Streets and stretched out for nine blocks. When asked about expected ridicule, Arellano responded, “we’ve had nothing but positive feedback . . . there’s always that fear and the hope that nobody does or says anything like that.”
It seems that the feedback stayed positive. Tina Larson, who was there with her two grandchildren, said she had no problem with Heartland Pride marching in the parade.
“I think they deserve every right to (march),” Larson said, “I’ll be the one cheering for them.”
That sort of mindset was found all along the parade route. People didn’t seem to care that a bunch of LGBT people and allies were going to march down the street handing their children candy and necklaces.
Danielle Johnson helped carry Heartland Pride’s rainbow flag on Saturday. She shared why she and her eight-year-old daughter decided to come out in the cold and show pride.
“I think anytime you see kids, adults, older adults that are being accepting,” Johnson said, “it shows the younger generation that they can be themselves and they can be okay. I actually have a five-year-old transgender daughter . . . that’s why we’re here.”
It just goes to show that whether it’s in an Irish flag or a rainbow one, everyone can show off a little green leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.
Coming to the parade for the 13th year in a row, long-time Rump Roaster Moose performed and shared candy and a smile with Omaha parade go-ers at the annual Omaha St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“We always like to get out in the community, meet people and give back,” Moose said.
The Rump Roasters, the all-male dance team for the Omaha Beef, are used to performing outside the Ralston Arena. They try to perform for the community as often as they can. But they don’t do it alone.
Just as they do at the Omaha Beef football games, the Rump Roasters paraded alongside the female dance team, the Prime Dancers, and Beef mascot Sir Loin. Beef quarterback Anthony Iannotti also participated in the parade. The Beef are a minor-league football team.
“We have a lot of new people this year, and we are excited for what they bring to the show,” Prime Dancer Cashell Montez said.
The Rump Roasters braved the cold, decked out in Irish Kilts and custom Rump Roaster St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts, featuring a shamrock and the Rump Roaster logo.
“It might be one of the coldest parades we’ve been to, but last year it rained,” Eric Sherwood said.
Nevertheless, they brought the heat with a football field-inspired float that captured detailed yard lines, and, of course, an Irish flag.
“We’re really just out to represent the Omaha Beef football team and do some community service,” Moose said.
Six Omaha World-Herald Explorers descended Saturday on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Omaha.
The high school students, members of the Boy Scouts’ Exploring career-discovery program, covered the parade in freezing weather, interviewing and photographing participants and spectators.
Vanessa Chavez of Millard South and Alejandra Varela of Omaha South met Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Zoey Huckins of Duchesne Academy interviewed parade chairman Hugh Spellman. “He likes to come here because it (the parade) recognizes the Irish culture in America,” Zoey said.
Emma Whaley of Omaha Central aimed to find the Heartland Pride LGBT group in the parade. She located it and scampered around it, shooting photos of its members and their huge, rainbow-colored flag.
Kate Smith of Millard North and Jake Pietryga of Omaha Gross interviewed representatives of the Omaha Beef football team.
“They had their quarterback and their male dancers and the cheerleaders,” Kate said.
Metro-area Exploring leader Tara Lopez took photos of the students. So did Chris Peters, a reporter for the World-Herald and a leader of the newspaper’s Exploring group.
The temperature hadn’t reached 30 degrees yet. Jake arrived at the World-Herald in shorts but wisely changed into long pants.
The parade was cold but the vibe was warm.
Participants included dancers and clowns, cops and firefighters, dogs and kids, beauty queens and old men, Mayor Jean Stothert and her mayoral opponent Heath Mello, bicyclists and people in Star Wars costumes.
Vanessa interviewed a family with a young girl whose birthday falls on St. Patrick’s Day.
Alejandra said it was fun to see the dedication of the people enduring the cold to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which officially falls on March 17.
And it was fun to see the dedication of the World-Herald Explorers, working as journalists at a chilly, beautiful St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Sophomore Yousra Abdulrazig attends Westside High School and enjoys watching movies and reading books.
Abdulrazig says she would like to visit India for the tasty food and fascinating culture.
One thing that Abdulrazig doesn’t like is animals.
In second grade, she was in Girl Scouts, and on bring your pet day, only one girl brought her dog. Abdulrazig was at the playground, and all of the sudden the dog starts chasing her, she trips and falls and the dog attacks her. She says it’s her dog horror story.
Lesly Lopez is a quirky and easy going girl from a small family of four.
Her mother originates from El Salvador, and her father from Mexico. She enjoys listening to music, running, and watching movies with her family.
She might seem like the ordinary teenage girl, but something that sets her apart is her love for agriculture. Her older sister basically peer pressured her to join their school’s agriculture club, but now she couldn’t imagine her life without it.
“People don’t know enough about it,” Lopez said. “They think it’s just farming, but there’s so much more to it.”
Some of the parts of agriculture people don’t know much about, she said, include marketing, business, science and, of course, farming.
The science behind agriculture is really what drew her in and keeps her going. She loves agriculture even if it makes her seem like a nerd.