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St. Patrick's Day activities set for March 15


SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO-AM) Sioux Falls florist Patrick Gustaf will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 35th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 15.

Events officially kick off at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, with the traditional reading of the proclamations and Painting of the Shamrock at 9th Street and Phillips Avenue. The parade forms at 5th Street and Main Avenue at 12:30 p.m. and the parade begins at 2 p.m.

The parade provides an excellent opportunity for people throughout the Sioux Falls region to visit the city for a day of family activities. In 2009, the St. Patrick’s Day Extravaganza Committee, which plans the parade with support from the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce staff, decided to move the parade permanently to the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day.

Sponsorships from Sanford Health, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, Holiday Inn City Centre and Xcel Energy help underwrite the costs of bringing the Khartum Temple Pipes and Drums, a Shrine unit from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They have performed in the parade almost since the start and make guest appearances in local schools, nursing homes and hospitals leading up to the parade. A complete performance schedule will be released in March.

The “Vanguard Squadron,” an ethanol-powered stunt team performing in-formation aerobatics again will perform during the parade, weather permitting. It is sponsored by POET, a South Dakota ethanol producer.

There is no entry fee to participate in the parade but each entry must have some kind of Irish theme. Each participant 16 and older must purchase and wear an official St. Patrick’s Day Parade button costing $3. This year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade button has a green carnation, a nod to Gustaf, 61, co-owner of Gustaf’s Greenery.

The proceeds help cover parade costs and a portion is donated to Special Olympics and to youth programs run by El Riad Shrine Temple. Buttons are available at the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce (200 N. Phillips Ave., Suite 200), at various businesses and at the start of the parade.

No candy can be distributed at the parade. Sioux Falls City Council Ordinance (Section 38-143) states: “It is unlawful for any person conducting, managing or participating in any parade to distribute or permit the distribution of any candy or balloons to persons in attendance during the parade.”

To say that Pat Gustaf is excited about being Grand Marshal would be an understatement: “I feel very honored and I just can’t believe it. I just pinch myself once in a while,” Gustaf said.

Gustaf, 61, says he actually is three-fourths Irish. His great-grandfather was Swedish and moved to Cork, Ireland, in the mid-1800s. His mother Gertrude Eloise Fleming Gustaf, who was 100 percent Irish, was born in Montrose, S.D. The Fleming and the Gustaf families are part of the Montrose history.

“I truly love the Irish part of me!” he says. “I think that’s my best feature.”

For more information about the St. Patrick’s Day activities, go to www.siouxfallschamber.comand click on the Events & Programs/Annual Events link to find more information about St. Patrick’s Day, including the parade information packet, or call Wendy Neuharth at the Chamber, (605) 336-1620.