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Why LWB's annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade isn’t happening this year

Updated: Mar 17

A scene from the 2023 St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Lake Worth Beach. (TOM JOHNSON)

THERE WILL BE be no St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Lake Worth Beach on Sunday. 

The popular annual Irish-themed procession on Lake and Lucerne avenues draws thousands of spectators to watch a merrymaking parade of golf carts, Jeeps, motorcycles, classic rides and bicycles, all decked out in green. 

But Denise Roeser, president of Wheels for Kids, the charity that had sponsored the parade since 2007, decided earlier this year it was “not feasible” for her nonprofit to continue hosting the event. 

The Lake Worth Beach Neighborhood Association Presidents Council intended to take over and host the parade. But those plans fell through earlier this month, causing confusion among many people who found out online in comment threads that offered plenty of speculation but no official reason for the late scrub. 

What happened? 

The answer depends on who you ask. 

The NAPC, an umbrella organization representing 16 Lake Worth Beach neighborhood associations, tried to permit the parade, “but at the time of our application, there was no staff in that city department to process it,’’ NACP vice president Jon Faust said in a private Facebook message.

That’s not true, according to interim city manager Jamie Brown. 

“There was never anything submitted to the city,’’ Brown said. “We didn't have anything to actually process, and we would have processed it really quickly if they would have pushed it in at the last minute.’’

Hosting the parade requires two permits: an events permit from the city and a right-of-way permit from the Florida Department of Transportation (since Lake and Lucerne are owned by the state). 

Faust did not reply to a reporter’s message asking if the NAPC applied for a state permit. NAPC president Craig Frost did not return messages seeking comment.  

A scene from the 2023 St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Lake Worth Beach. (TOM JOHNSON)

Brown said he double checked Thursday morning with Captain Todd Baer of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. “He confirmed: They did not submit an FDOT permit. So, not only did they not put in for a city permit to see if they could have the event, they never applied for an FDOT permit,’’ the interim city manager said.

Brown said the NAPC at one point this year floated a request to PBSO about posting PBSO cruisers at the front and back of the parade, so the St. Patrick’s Day procession could take place without shutting down Lake and Lucerne avenues to normal traffic. The request was denied.

“You can't do something like that from a liability standpoint,’’ Brown said. 

“It sounds like something was dropped in the handoff from the group that was doing it before and who was taking it over,’’ he said. 

About five years ago, Roeser said, Wheels for Kids tried to let NAPC take over the parade but the neighborhood group backed out a month or two before that event. So, Wheels for Kids continued hosting the parade, she said.

No one faults the NAPC for the lack of a parade this year. The neighborhood group at least tried to step in and save it when Wheels For Kids backed out. It takes lot of planning and lots of money to put on the parade, said Roeser said, whose charity provides wheelchairs to disabled children.

She said it cost her nonprofit at least $10,000 a year to put on the parade. She said the charity usually “broke even” but she decided to stop hosting it this year. 

“It’s not feasible for us to continue,” she said. 

Faust, in his initial Facebook message, said he hoped the parade would return in 2025. “We are looking forward to everyone's help and sponsorship on next year’s event,’’ he wrote. 

Although there was plenty of unhappiness on social media about the absence of a parade this year, there will be no shortage of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations downtown on Sunday. 

Brown said Dave’s Last Resort and Lilo’s Street Food and Bar have permits to close down the downtown block of K Street, which is owned by the city, for St. Patricks' Day block parties.

And there are rumblings that some people, in golf carts and on foot and all decked out in green, may try to launch a parade of their own.

UPDATE: Shortly after this story published, Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Reinaldo Diaz said he would ask the commission to explore the possibility of the city taking over the parade next year.

On Sunday, several visitors who arrived downtown expecting to see a parade were disappointed. But there was an unofficial golf cart parade just after 12 noon on St. Patrick's Day, as seen in this video:

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About the author

Joe Capozzi is an award-winning reporter based in Lake Worth Beach. He spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, mostly at The Palm Beach Post, where he wrote about the opioid scourge, invasive pythons, the birth of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County government. For 15 years, he covered the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joe left The Post in December 2020. View all posts by Joe Capozzi.


1 comentário

Membro desconhecido
15 de mar.

Thanks Joe, I was wondering what happened - hopefully the parade will resume next year.

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