“It’s so pretty,” said 4-year-old Jessica Landroll, who had both arms and most of her shirt soaked by the fountain on Eighth and Broad streets, which was spewing green water in honor of the holiday.
Her mother, Mary Landroll, of Evans, was standing behind her armed with a dry shirt, although she admitted she might not need it considering the more than 80-degree weather.
“What a gorgeous day for a parade,” she said. “Assuming Jessica can be torn away from the fountain.”
Soon there was cheering to signal the annual parade, organized by the Irish-American Heritage Society of Augusta, was on its way.
Packed seven people deep in some places, crowds lined the east side of Broad to watch the green, white and gold floats.
Among the first was the grand marshal, Augusta lawyer Pat Rice, Louise Sheehan, Irish Lady of the Year and her family, and the Bernard J. Mulherin family, named Irish Family of the Year.
Other families followed, including the Douglas Clan, who wrapped its float in an Irish flag and the O’Neil Clan, whose float was covered in leprechauns. Augusta’s Glor na Daire Academy of Irish Dance showed off its dancers, wearing blond curly wigs and red, black and gold outfits. The dancers leaped and twirled down the street keeping their arms close to their sides.
Face-painting, slides, basketball, baseball and a bounce house were set up on Augusta Common.
People all along Broad Street were carrying plastic cups full of green beer, which was poured by the keg at Metro Coffee House and Blue Sky Kitchen, among others.
Not to be left out, Flowers Express had Irish car bomb cupcakes, named after the drink by the same name, made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Guinness.
“It’s been a blast today,” said owner Kathy Norman, noting they were checking IDs because of the alcohol-fused ingredients. “They were a huge hit.”
She said they will begin carrying the specialty sweets year-round.
Not every business downtown was latching onto the liquor bandwagon. A sign outside the Book Tavern said, “Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by doing some binge reading.”
Next door at Soy Noodle House, 24-year-old Michael Jefferson said drinking was as much a part of St. Patrick’s Day as “breathing.”
“Why would they make green beer if it didn’t sell like crazy?” he said, wearing a Gumbi shirt because it was his only green article of clothing. “Today’s about celebration and fun. I’ll read tomorrow.”