By: Joanie Cox-Henry Contributing Writer
Retired Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Captain John Fischer has become a local “Shamrock” star.
He has spent the past nine years working all hours of the day recruiting volunteers and organizing and growing the Delray Beach St. Patricks Day Parade through his 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Code 3 Events.
Now in its 50th year, Fischer assures the pre-parade festival, which is March 16 and the parade and festival which takes place March 17 will be bigger and better than ever before.
“Because it’s the 50th annual parade and festival, we’re putting the family of Maury Power up front,” Fischer said. “Maury was a local Irish pub owner who started the tradition of The Delray Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1968 when he took a stroll down Atlantic Avenue with his Shillelagh and a green pig. We’re actually going to have pigs in the parade this year.”
In addition to pipe bands and emergency service uniformed personnel marching in the parade from around the world, Southeast Florida Honor Flight World War II Veterans are also going to appear in the parade as they proudly roll through the streets of Delray in wheelchairs being pushed by first responders. Former Delray Beach city manager and current Arcadia city manager Terry Stewart will sing the national anthem on the balcony of the new parade viewing stand at 32 East.
“This year, we have added a firefighter cancer awareness component to the parade,” Fischer said. “There are five or six cancers related to our job and we want to bring awareness to that. Fire service personnel will be marching with memorial photos for those firefighters who have lost their battle with cancer and marching for firefighters who are currently battling cancer.”
The parade, which attracts thousands of spectators and inspires volunteers to join in the fun, has become a tradition for Delray Beach golf pro and longtime volunteer firefighter Ronnie Dunayer.
“We volunteered a couple of years ago and we are proud to do it again this year,” Dunayer said. “John brings fabulous energy to our city every year. He also brings fire fighters from around the world to celebrate with us and our town. There is no way to measure that value.”
While the capacity for floats is nearly full, and this year, Fischer encouraged float designer to truly go over the top with fun designs, there is still a need for donations. “To donate to the parade, visit Stpatrickmarch.com.”
The pre-parade festival is 5-10 p.m. March 16 at Old School Square. The parade begins at 2 p.m. March 17 and takes place on Atlantic Avenue from the Intracoastal Bridge to Northwest/Southwest Fifth Avenue. Entertainment will be provided both days of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration including a March 17 performance by Fire Brigade, a rock band consisting of Miami-Dade County Fire Fighters, performances by Aranmore Academy of Irish Dance and more.