Charlotte’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is returning in 2023, new organizer says

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A new organizer has stepped in to revive Charlotte’s cherished St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival.

Longtime Charlottean Rory Wall has formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committee and established a website, CharlotteStPats.com, for the event, he told The Charlotte Observer in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Children reach for bubbles during the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Longtime Charlottean Rory Wall has secured permits from the city of Charlotte to restore the parade and festival on March, 11, 2023.
Children reach for bubbles during the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Longtime Charlottean Rory Wall has secured permits from the city of Charlotte to restore the parade and festival on March, 11, 2023.

“Our objective is to have a self-sustaining committee fully funded by the parade and festival that will create a dominant event between the parades in New York and Savannah,” Wall said.

Officials with those parades have offered help as needed in making Charlotte’s a success once again, Wall said.

The Charlotte committee has secured parade and festival permits from the city for March 11, 2023, which is the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, Wall said. The parade will be held “rain or shine,” he said.

The Independence High School marching band has committed to participate in the parade, Wall said, while he continues to work on commitments from other Charlotte-area schools and organizations.

Festivities are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the parade from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wall said.

The all-volunteer effort also is focusing on creating a board of directors and securing parade sponsors, he said. No one is earning a salary, and any profit would go directly to the following year’s parade.

Wall and Mike Lenahan, president of the Charlotte division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, co-chair the new committee. The order is an Irish-American organization with deep roots in Ireland.

COVID impact on the parade

Before COVID-19 postponed the event, the Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade entertained 80,000 spectators along Tryon Street in uptown each year, the couple who founded the parade a quarter-century ago told the Observer in February.

Great Dane Friends of Ruff Love group members parade decked out dogs during the 21st annual Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade in uptown Charlotte.
Great Dane Friends of Ruff Love group members parade decked out dogs during the 21st annual Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade in uptown Charlotte.

Frank Hart, who started the parade with his wife, Linda Dyer Hart, cited his worsening Parkinson’s disease for ending the popular tradition. The parade would have celebrated its 25th year last March.

The parade was last held in 2019, because the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event the past two years.

IBM retiree, Irish lineage

Wall said Charlotte deserves to have its St. Patrick’s Day Parade back.

“Like so many other people in Charlotte, I was disappointed that there was no St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year,” he said.

Wall was born on St. Patrick’s Day. His middle name is Patrick.

He said he retired from IBM after 30 years. He received his MBA from Wake Forest University.

Before moving to Charlotte in 1990, he and his family lived in Tokyo. He worked with IBM Japan there to help build the first global trading system for securities, he said.

Wall also said he helped start four companies: a consulting firm, an accounting software company, a software service company and an industrial waste removal company.

He has nine grandchildren, enjoys traveling and is active in the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. His father was born in Belfast, Ireland, and the family traces its roots in Ireland to the year 1170, he said.