LITTLE ROCK, AR (March 12, 2012) The 2012 Rock to North Little Rock St. Patrick’s Day Parade will occur at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17, 2012. The Parade, which occurs on St. Patrick’s Day this year, will begin at Fourth and Rock in downtown Little Rock, travel over Third Street and Sherman to River Market, crossing the Arkansas River via the Main Street Bridge into the Argenta Arts District ending at Sixth and Main in North Little Rock. (See attached Map of the Parade Route)
The Parade is organized by the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas and is in its thirteenth year. The North Little Rock Visitors Bureau is the presenting sponsor of this year’s parade.
“The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas is very excited to once again involve the two cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock,” said Jim Doyle, president of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas. “We’re also thrilled to establish three primary viewing and performance areas for the Parade – the Third Street Merchants Association at Third and Rock, River Market along President Clinton Blvd. and the Argenta Arts District along Main Street in North Little Rock.”
“New this year, we are pleased to announce a food drive will be held to benefit the Arkansas Rice Depot which cares for the less fortunate in this great state of ours. We ask all Parade participants and spectators to bring at least one canned good or non-perishable food item to collection locations at Fourth & Rock in downtown Little Rock, River Market near Channel 7 and Fourth & Main in North Little Rock. With everyone’s help we can provide food for thousands of Arkansans.”
The Arkansas Rice Depot was formed in 1982 to combat hunger in Arkansas. Their mission is to find sensible solutions to hunger in Arkansas. The Rice Depot:
- Distributes over 8 million pounds of food each year
- Feeds as much as 14% of the state’s population
- With a small staff of 20, spends more than 98% of its budget on purchasing and distributing food
- Serves over 300 pantries in all 75 counties in Arkansas – the only statewide food bank network
Each year the Parade features marching bagpipe bands, Irish music and dancing, Irish wolfhounds, clowns, floats and antique cars. More than 90 entries are expected to participate in the Parade this year.
Following the Parade from 2:00 to 4 p.m. a program called “Dancing at the Crossroads” will be held on the Grand Stand Stage located at Fourth and Main in North Little Rock. The post-Parade program features Irish music and dance performances.
Headlining the parade this year are the following performers:
• Dead Celt Society – a Celtic Punk Rock band from Bauxite, AR
• Lyon College Pipe Band – A Scottish bagpipe band from Batesville, AR
• Prince Street Bagpipe Band – A Scottish bagpipe band from Conway, AR
• Peg Roach Loyd – a Little Rock-based award-winning singer/songwriter who performs traditional and original Irish and Irish-American songs
• The McCafferty School of Irish Dance – a traditional Irish dance school presenting classes in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Little Rock, AR
• The O’Donovan School of Irish Dance – a traditional Irish dance school in North Little Rock, AR
• Reflejos Mexicanos Ballet Folklorico – a traditional Mexican dance group from Little Rock, AR
Applications for floats, marching bands, and other types of parade participants are now being accepted and may be completed online at: IrishArkansas.org or obtained by emailing info@IrishArkansas.org or calling 501-868-6416. Organizations such as area businesses, schools, churches and not-for-profit groups are encouraged to participate in and support this free, multi-cultural community event. The deadline for parade applications is March 13, 2012.
“We encourage corporate, business and community leaders to enter a float in the parade or make a donation to offset the expense of the Parade,” said Doyle. “We have a contest each year for best decorated float; best decorated car, truck or motorcycle; most entertaining group; best dressed walker; and even most festive leprechaun. Even St. Patrick himself makes a special appearance in the Parade!”
The 2012 Rock to North Little Rock St. Patrick’s Day Parade is organized by the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas (ICSA). ICSA, a 501( c ) 3 not-for-profit organization, was originally founded in 1996 by a group of Irish nationals, many of whom had immigrated to Arkansas during the nursing shortage of the 1980’s. Recruited by area hospitals, nurses from Ireland came to Arkansas originally intending to work a few years and return to their homeland. Instead they married and settled in Little Rock and began raising families. As their children grew, they realized the importance of passing on their Irish culture and heritage to their American-born children. Together with their Irish-American friends, they formed the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas with the following goals:
• To develop and further enhance local interest in the culture of Ireland and its people.
• To publicize the presence of an active Irish community in the Little Rock area.
• To reacquaint Arkansans of Irish descent with their culture and ethnic history.
• To familiarize the general public with the culture of the Irish people and the richness of their contribution to America
ICSA has about 100 members who share a love for and interest in Ireland. The group provides programs demonstrating aspects of Irish culture (through traditional Irish music, dance, cultural displays at local libraries, etc.) for the education of Arkansans. They also volunteer for other not-for-profit charities such as the public education TV channel, AETN, the Arkansas Rice Depot and the Salvation Army.
For more information about the 2012 Rock to North Little Rock St. Patrick’s Day Parade or the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, visit the website at IrishArkansas.org or contact Tim Ryan at 501-868-6416 or via e-mail at: info@IrishArkansas.org.
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