Irish pride in the Wilkes-Barre area has expanded St. Patrick’s Day celebrations from more than just one day.
Butch Modzelewski, self-proclaimed Polish bagpiper, said it’s more like “St. Patrick’s month.” The Wyoming Valley Pipe and Drum band, which Modzelewski plays the bagpipes for, will be performing throughout the month at area pubs, as well as the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton parades.
Modzelewski said the crowds love to come out for the band’s unique bagpipe sound and Irish outfits. Though, the audience isn’t the only ones that enjoy the show.
“We put a lot of fun into our performances … we have a ball,” Modzelewski said.
He said their signature song, “Five Times Fast,” really gets the crowd going. The song starts out slow but then speeds up, resulting in an upbeat performance that has the bagpipers jumping and dancing and the crowd clapping.
“People really get into that,” Modzelewski said. “It draws a nice crowd, people love it.”
The Wyoming Valley Pipe and Drum band has been around for four years, and they’ve played in the Wilkes-Barre parade for every year.
This year’s parade will take place on Sunday, March 11 at 2 p.m. along South Main and Main Streets. Lore Majikes, special events coordinator for Wilkes-Barre, organized the parade and said it gives everyone a chance to celebrate the Irish culture regardless of their heritage.
“Everyone has a little Irish in them that day,” Majikes said.
She said all of the Irish clans are represented in the parade.
“They all want to be out there to celebrate their pride,” Majikes said.
The parade will include many musical performances, from the Wyoming Valley Pipe and Drum band to The Imaginary Boys. Majikes said there are a lot of young adult performers that would appeal to college students.
The Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day parade draws an estimate of 10,000 to 15,000 attendees, Majikes said.
“Our parades are always very popular.”
She added that they don’t try to compete with the Scranton parade, which will take place on Saturday, March 10 at noon. She said the relatively smaller Wilkes-Barre parade gives everyone good views of the event.
Majikes said the parade has such a good turnout because it’s something different to do in the springtime.
“I think people are just looking for something different to do,” Majikes said. “People are anxious to get outside and do something different.”
A new addition to the parade events is The Renal Race, which is a 1 mile fun run to raise funds for The Kidney Cancer Association. Registration will begin at Kirby Park at 7 a.m., with the race starting at 8:30.
The parade and related activities are only a part of the St. Patrick’s day plans for the area.“St. Patrick’s month” begins with Gaelic Storm, a Celtic rock show at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. which are $22 for balcony seating and $32 for orchestra and mezzanine seating. According to kirbycenter.org, the band plays traditional music of Ireland with a modern American rock and pop twist.
The band will be visiting the Wilkes-Barre Hardware Bar at 12:30 p.m. prior to the Wilkes-Barre parade on March 11, and after the parade will stop at Mulligan’s Irish Pub, Senuna’s Bar and Grill, Outsiders Saloon and more.
To continue the March St. Patrick’s festivities, the Wyoming Valley Pipe and Drum band is holding several pub tours throughout the month. More details on their events can be found at http://wyomingvalleypipeanddrum.com.