Holmes Beach is home to a St. Patrick's Day parade like no other thanks to the Beach Bistro.
What first started as two Irish guys spitballin' in a bar, turned into a full fledged parade with an elephant, camel in a matter of two days back in 1999. And it's now in its 14th year.
The parade starts at 4 p.m. Sunday, kicking off at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, and ends on North Palm Drive and 78th Street. Parade participants should gather at 2 p.m. at City Hall.
Beach Bistro bar manager Fred Sullivan is credited to being one of the creative geniuses of the annual event hatched at the Sean Murphy-owned restaurant.
Here is how the story goes, according to Beach Bistro:
"Two Irish men are there talking about the best way to celebrate St. Patty's Day. Like all great ideas hatched by Irish bar geniuses, they decided that throwing a parade was a very good idea -- even if they only had two days in which to do it.
"I can get you a permit," The mayor offered.
"I've got a boat you can use," one patron volunteered.
"I've got three horses," said another.
Within two days, the first Beach Bistro St. Patrick's Day Parade was born, complete with floats, bagpipers, marching bands, horses, antique cars, an elephant named Judy and a camel named Omar.
Given the circumstance, and that it was kind of a funny joke to begin with, the parade had a humble beginning, according to the restaurant:
"Fourteen years ago, Sean Murphy loaded up his kids and their neighborhood friends into an old green lawn trailer and, armed with a permit and a boom box, drove the be-greened trailer down the middle of Gulf Drive to the amusement and consternation of fellow Islanders who had no idea they were witnessing what became the First Annual Anna Maria St Patrick’s Day Parade. Within a few years, the parade grew to encompass bands, floats, abundant greenery and thousands of onlookers."
Even with the boisterous atmosphere and the circus animals, the Beach Bistro makes room to honor veterans each year. This year the parade marshalls will be World War II veterans Sam Castelli and Jim Gabaree.
The parade is also sponsored by the Darcie Duncan Real Estate, the Pittsburgh Pirates, The Islander newspaper, Frank and Melissa Williams of SteamDesigns, Shawn Kaleta and his family and a local parade enthusiast who wishes to remain anonymous, according to Beach Bistro.
The Anna Maria Community Center will sponsor a Sham Rockin’ Festival in the field adjacent to Holmes Beach City Hall with booths offering food and crafts starting at 11 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, too.