St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans planned this weekend

— Created March 13, 2024 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Green is the preferred color this weekend, as Whidbey Island celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in style, with parade, music, food and some shenanigans to boot.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday in Oak Harbor. The event was started by the Whidbey Island Irish Wildlife Society and has kept going strong, although the group did seek some planning and logistical help this year.

Teresa Besaw Photo Courtesy of Oak Harbor Main Street Association
Get ready for an untraditional parade of fun as the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches through downtown Oak Harbor Saturday at 1 p.m. The event has been going strong for decades and anyone can participate by donning their best green attire and just having a good time.

“The Whidbey Irish Wildlife Society has been doing a great job with the parade for 51 years now. I just felt that we needed Oak Harbor Main Steet Association and Oak Harbor Chamber support and sponsorship as well,” said Teresa Besaw, an Irish Wildlife Society member and marketing coordinator for OHMSA. “Last November OHMSA and the Oak Harbor Chamber worked together to bring the Veterans Day parade back to downtown Oak Harbor…so I asked them to help me and the Whidbey Irish Wildlife Society on the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They already have a lot of the contacts needed to pull off a successful parade.”

“From our perspective, we decided to support Oak Harbor Main Street with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for a few reasons,” said Cheryl Grehan, events and logistics manager for the Oak Harbor Chamber. “Several of our members are also members of the Main Street Association and supporting our members is priority. The chamber feels more people collaborating to produce an event gets better results and lightens the load for all involved. Working with another association that knows what they are doing is beneficial to us as we glean from their experience. Aligning with our tagline of ‘Connecting Community,’ it creates a meaningful connection between two entities dedicated to supporting local businesses.”

The grand marshals for the parade this year will be the Carrothers family, in memory of Sandi Carrothers, a longtime volunteer for many events and organizations in the Oak Harbor community, explained Besaw.

“She was a member of the Whidbey Irish Wildlife Society and a pub crawl organizer,” she said. “She was also in the Lions Club and just a fun, well known lady about town.”

Teresa Besaw Photo Courtesy of Oak Harbor Main Street Association
Grab your best green clothes and be ready to have fun at a whole slew of St. Patrick’s Day events this weekend in downtown Oak Harbor.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Oak Harbor is truly like no other organized parade in the city. It’s free to participate, you don’t have to be Irish (because EVERYONE is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right?) and it’s just meant to be a fun time for all.

“This parade is free, it’s fun, and anyone can be in it,” said Besaw, adding political entries are not allowed in this event. “It’s all about having fun and celebrating the Irish heritage of Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island. For participants, I think they have a good time and it’s a fun way to get out there and see the community. As for the spectators, who doesn’t love wearing green and being Irish for a day?” 

Margaret Livermore, OHMSA executive director, said the expression “the more, the merrier,” summarizes the overall planning philosophy surrounding the St. Patrick’s Day parade. She was pleased to point out at least 30 different groups, organizations or businesses have signed up to take part, rain or shine.

The light-hearted event is also a great way to kick off a weekend full of St. Patrick’s Day-themed activities.

“Participating merchants in historic downtown will be offering specials and/or discounts,” said Livermore. “There is a pub crawl as well and other restaurants will be serving corned beef and cabbage.”

People are encouraged to stick around downtown Oak Harbor and to wear green for discounts, specials and treats all weekend long at participating merchants. Or consider stopping by Oak Harbor’s own Blarney Stone.

“In the early morning hours, leprechauns appear and they wash the Blarney Stone with Guiness and then they leave shamrock prints and potatoes with Irish flags about Oak Harbor,” described Besaw of some of the St. Paddy shenanigans expected. “After the parade, we will gather at the Blarney Stone (currently at Windjammer Park) and have a benediction and kissing of the Blarney Stone.”

Teresa Besaw Photo Courtesy of Oak Harbor Main Street Association
In honor of St. Patrick, Rich Mueller of Oak Harbor can usually be spotted in his finery at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Oak Harbor. This year’s parade will be Saturday at 1 p.m., rain or shine.

For those who work up an appetite watching or participating in the parade, or visiting the Blarney Stone, the Ladies Auxiliary of the George Morris Post of the American Legion will be offering its traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast immediately following the parade, beginning at 2 p.m., at 690 SE Barrington Ave. The menu includes corned beef and cabbage.  The cost is $15 for adults and children 12 and under are $7.

Starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl begins at the Oak Harbor Café/Lava Louie’s. Nine different restaurants/bars will be participating in the crawl this year, offering food and drink specials, trivia and prizes. There is no cost to attend the crawl, but participants must purchase their own food and drink. The plan is to spend 30 minutes at each of the participating locations. Pub Crawl participants should secure a designated driver or taxi.

All in all, St. Patrick’s Day weekend should shape up to be pure fun, whether you’re Irish or not.

“It’s just a fun time,” said Grehan. “It is the day that everyone is Irish, according to the Irish Wildlife Society.”

“Dress up and celebrate the Irish,” Livermore encouraged. “You do not need to be Irish to be in the parade or to have fun dressing up in green and celebrating.

“It is a lot of work to put a parade together, but I enjoy the outcome and seeing everyone coming together to celebrate,” she continued. “Smiles all around.”

Learn more at or to learn more about the Whidbey Island Irish Wildlife Society, go to