This year's St. Patrick's Day parade in St. Charles pays homage to its own roots.
Though you might not guess it from her name alone, Rosie Martinez was the driving force behind the city's original parade in 2000. Martinez came from Dublin, Ireland, in 1998 to help establish McNally's Traditional Irish Pub in the downtown at the invitation of owner Maurice McNally.
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One year later, she came up with the idea of the parade and approached city officials with a band of 15 volunteers to get it going.
"I wanted to bring a piece of my culture to St. Charles and show how we really do it back home," Martinez said in a written statement. "We wanted to bring a piece of Ireland to St. Charles."
Now Martinez will add the title grand marshal to her duties at the pub and as a hair dresser for Colour Line Hair Studio in Geneva.
"I love St. Charles," Martinez said. "This is a great town with great people, 100 percent. I was accepted as one of their own, and for that I'm very lucky."
Martinez won't be the only highlight of this year's parade. Festive costumes and decorations won't be limited to floats on four wheels. Participants with four legs will also take a highlighted role.
The St. Charles Veterinary Clinic will host a "Deck Out Your Lucky Dog Contest" from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in front of city hall at 2 E. Main St. Dogs of all ages and breeds are encouraged to dress up in St. Patrick's Day-themed outfits and walk in the parade with their fellow canines and owners. Those dog owners will take a vote on the best costumed dog. the winners will be eligible for a $100 gift card from the clinic, a one-year supply of heartworm, flea and tick preventive, an electric water fountain and more prizes.
All dog who register to be in the contest will receive a professional photograph. The preregistration form is online at: www.downtownstcharles.org/stpats.
Before the dog contest, the Arcada Theatre will host a "Dance Show" of local dance groups to get the festivities going at 10 a.m.
The parade route is the same as last year. It touches off at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 16, on Main Street. The route runs from Sixth Street to Fourth Avenue. Bands, Irish dancers, Irish music, floats, school groups, service clubs and area residents will all be featured in the parade. The event is expected to draw up to 15,000 people.
For more information, visit www.downtownstcharles.org.