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Mr. Green Genes
Nothing stops the man behind St. Patty’s partying in Wilmington. It’s in his blood.
Every March, Patrick Kelly dons his robes and mitre and transforms into a Delaware legend—Saint Patrick, the central figure of Wilmington’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Kelly, along with the Irish Culture Club of Delaware, has organized the event for the past 34 years. He’s built floats and miniature Irish cottages, and he’s painted countless green lines down King Street.
He’s back this year, and he’s marching rain or shine. In 1993, when a blizzard dumped 18 inches of snow, Kelly went on with the show—alone. The local ABC affiliate was on hand to report on the storm when Kelly knocked on the news van window and asked reporter Lauren Wilson to move so his parade could proceed.
Such pluck has made him a celebrity. He’s regularly invited to other events, including the new Smyrna Parade, where he marched with the Irish band the Auld Stars. “We had so much fun with those people, just dancing and carrying on in the street,” he says.
Kelly’s duties include soliciting marchers and sponsors. He orders special mugs and enough brew to satisfy a parade, which, on St. Patty’s Day, tends to be a lot. Kelly drinks, but not too much. “You’ve got to use a little sense when you’re responsible for the parade,” he says. “There’s plenty of time later on to drink and act like an idiot. I’m pretty good at doing that, too.”
Join Kelly on King Street March 14 starting at noon. —Matt Amis