By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
In 2009, Patrick O’Flaherty owned the Irish Pub in downtown Lewisburg and began an annual tradition of hosting The Shortest St. Patrick’s Parade…in America’s Coolest Small Town. The idea came from his friends from Belfast, Stephen and Pauline Patterson. They owned an Irish Pub in New Orleans from 2002 to 2016, and hosted their own parade for many years.
“Their parade went out the front door of the pub and back in their side door,” O’Flaherty explains. “Theirs was the shortest parade in the south, so they suggested I host the shortest one on the east coast.”
Over the years, the route has changed…but it’s always stayed short. It first traveled from Greenbrier Valley Theatre a few doors down to the Irish Pub. Then it moved from the Wild Bean a few more doors down to the Irish Pub. After O’Flaherty sold the pub, the route moved to Montwell Commons (a block away from the original route).
“We start at Amy’s Market and end at Hill & Holler,” says O’Flaherty.
In total, the current parade route is less than 100 feet. But that does not dampen the spirit! Over 50 people of all ages, including mayor Bev White, marched in the parade this year. Another couple dozen gathered to watch.
O’Flaherty led the parade, playing the harmonica. “Everyone is welcome, and whoever shows up participates. We’ve had Irish wolfhounds, dancers, and cloggers over the years. It’s not organized. We just show up and have fun!”
This year, the grand marshals of the parade were Paul & Mary Linquist. They live less than 100 yards away on the Montwell property, where Mary grew up. O’Flaherty says they were chosen to lead the parade this year due to their charity work, their donation of five acres towards Montwell Commons, and their good spirits. “They’re just very kind people,” he says.
They led the parade goers into Hill & Holler for drinks and pizza afterwards while O’Flaherty played traditional music. After their long walk, they needed the refreshment.