Saturday, March 6, 2004 | 2 a.m.
WEEKEND EDITION: March 7, 2004
It's time to dust off the "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" button and prepare to sport some green.
The Las Vegas Sons of Erin will be celebrating the pride o' the Irish on March 13 with their 38th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival.
The parade route will be downtown Las Vegas, starting at Fourth Street and Gass Avenue and proceeding north on Fourth Street to Ogden Avenue.
The festive march is set to begin at 11 a.m. and will feature the Honorary Irish Consulate, Dr. Bernard Brady, who will bring a large group to participate in the St. Patrick's Day festivities.
The executive director of the Irish-Mexican Alliance will also be present, Sons of Erin President Ken Conners said.
"They get asked to go to parades in Reno, San Francisco and other big cities," he said. "But he chose ours. It's a nice pat on the back that he chooses us instead."
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., is this year's grand marshal.
The parade will also showcase men and women from the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard, as well as the Air Force Thunderbirds.
This year the Las Vegas Sons of Erin will honor Charles Becker, the actor who was the Mayor of Munchkin Land in the original Wizard of Oz, parade Chairman Mike Scanlon said.
Becker will sit at the Sons of Erin membership booth and will be "doing things for charity," Scanlon said.
Again this year the Las Vegas Sons of Erin will donate parade proceeds to local charities and organizations, Conners said.
This year's organizations include St. Jude's Ranch for Children, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Clark County School District and organizations targeting cystic fibrosis, he said.
A crowd of at least 30,000 is expected to view the two-hour parade, Scanlon said. It is expected to include 110 entries, 100 floats and 1,500 participants.
Eye-catching floats will make their way through the streets, with entrants such as Mothers for Multiples and the Tall People Club, Conners said.
Oakview Construction Inc. will support Music In Motion in the parade.
Music In Motion is a performance group that was founded in 1999; it caters to the younger hearing impaired and deaf community.
The high-energy performance group of kids and adults performs American Sign Language to music, Dawn McLain, director of business development of Oakview Construction, said.
Performers will dance and spread a message of fellowship and cooperation with sign language on a float for the parade, she said.
The Sons of Erin will simultaneously host an Irish festival at the Fremont Street Experience.
The festival is free and open from 10 a.m. until midnight, Scanlon said. The festival will include Irish entertainment, drinks, crafts and souvenirs.
Streets in and out of the area will be closed to traffic early in the day.
The Sons of Erin group formed in Las Vegas in 1966 and conducted its first St. Patrick's Day parade that year. The group now has about 200 members.
For more information, visit the website at www.lvsoe.com.