Short but spirited parade celebrates ‘St. Paddy’s’

Annual event a tradition for one family
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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What it lacks in length it makes up for in spirit. The 35th annual “St. Paddy’s Day Parade” started promptly at 5:17 p.m. Thursday when a short procession of festively decorated modern and classic cars drove down Lincoln Way onto High Street and ended in Old Town Auburn. The small parade has been a staple for more than three decades and has endeared itself to a loyal group of participants who say it adds to Auburn’s charm. “It’s small-town charm,” said Auburn resident Stephanie Labrecque. “It’s adorable. It’s fun.” Labrecque said her family, which includes her two daughters and parents, has been a part of the parade since they moved to town six years ago. For the Labrecque family, the parade has become a tradition. “(My daughters) would not know what it would be like to have a St. Patrick’s Day without the parade,” Labrecque said, laughing. The parade also lets the family celebrate the birthday of Labrecque’s mother, Barbara VanBeckum. Just before the parade started VanBeckum was snuggled with her two granddaughters, Maddie, 6, and Abbie, 4, in the back of a pickup decorated with green balloons and a “Happy Birthday Nonna” sign taped to the side. “I just love the charm, I really do,” VanBeckum said. “It’s a lot of fun and a lot of people yell, ‘happy birthday!’” The parade became an Auburn tradition in 1976. It originally started as a kick-off campaign for Bob Young, who made a successful bid for judge that year. Young, a longtime defense attorney in Placer County, was dressed for the occasion Thursday. His bright green suit and top hat were only surpassed by his neon green hair and beard. “I had to go to 12 different stores and up to Sunrise Mall to get it,” Young said of his hair dye. When asked how he thinks the Paddy’s day procession compares to other parades in town, Young had a ready answer. “There are no other parades,” Young said. “This is it.” Thursday afternoon a crowd of about 20 gathered by the clock tower in Downtown to wave and cheer as the parade drove by. Ember Nagle and her 18-month-old son, Jonah, were among the crowd. Nagle said she and her family always try to do something fun in town and decided to come to the parade after reading about it. “I liked it. It was a little quick, but I guess that means there’s more parking,” she quipped. “I’m glad we weren’t late.” Reach Jenifer Gee at