Crowds line up for St. Patrick's Day parade

Throngs of people lined Broad Street on Saturday with their hands raised as members of the Olde Town Neighborhood Group rained strands of green beads down on them.

The float slowly made its way down Broad Street hitched to the back of a Rich­mond County fire truck during the 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Bagpipers and Grand Marshall Billy Herman led the parade.

Heather and Brian Bent­ley found a less crowded spot on 11th Street near Greene Streets Karaoke Bar. Their children – Brady, 7, and Brandon, 10 – sat with friend Seth Prior, 10. Each child had a plastic bag filled with candy they’d accumulated by the middle of the parade.

Brady Bentley declared the parade “pretty good.” He said the Augusta Shriners’ go-karts were his favorite entry.

A few feet away, 10-year-old Eliana Faison, decked out in at least seven strands of beads, danced whenever a musical float passed by. She collected candy in the seat of her chair, but she was too busy waving at parade participants to sit down.

“This is her first year being bold enough to wave and ask for beads,” said her mother, Shaaron Faison. “She’s so shy.”

Crowds were a little stronger along Telfair Street, but still much lighter than those on Broad Street, and that suited Joan and Walt Harwood just fine.

They’ve been coming to the parade for years and said both the parade and the crowds were bigger than last year.

As soon as the South Star Trolley signaled the end of the parade, the crowd
poured onto Augusta Common, where festivities continued with live music, food vendors and a children’s play area.

Elizabeth Reed and her family tried to watch the parade but ended up letting the children play at the common instead. The crowds made it difficult to get close enough for the children to see it, Reed said.

“He’s enjoying it more back here than I think he did the parade, though,” she said of 4-year-old grandson, Wesley Hasty Jr., who was playing on the slides.

Reed said this is the first year in a long time she’s been off work and able to attend the St. Patrick’s Day festivities with her family.

“It’s been nice,” she said.

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