March 2012

March 2012: Our Town - Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day Parade

Author: Frank Dunne, Jr.

One of Hilton Head Island’s grandest traditions (perhaps second only to the RBC Heritage) received a warm, fuzzy shot of Irish whiskey this year. Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade officials announced in January that the parade has secured a major sponsor for the first time in its 29-year history.

Hilton Head-based credit card processor Merchant Service Center accepted the title of presenting sponsor, and the parade will be known this year as the Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade presented by Merchant Service Center.

“We’re proud to align our company with such a beloved tradition in the Lowcountry,” said Joe Roces, owner of Merchant Service Center. Roces was on hand at a January 31 ceremony held at The Board Room in Reilley’s Plaza to present this year’s official grand marshal sash to former mayor of Hilton Head Island Tom Peeples. “Tom made a great positive impact on our community,” said parade committee chair Kim Capin, “and we are pleased to recognize his community involvement as grand marshal of this parade.”

“It’s a wonderful, community-building program. I’ve always felt that this is when Hilton Head Island truly comes out and starts the spring and kicks off the rest of our season,” Peeples said in his acceptance remarks.

The Hilton Head St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which has been named by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast, is traditionally held the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. This year, that falls on March 11, and the march begins at 3 p.m.

The parade route is unchanged from last year, beginning on Pope Avenue at Lagoon Road, working its way up Pope Avenue to a left turn at Office Park Road and ending at Park Plaza. The reviewing stand will be situated in its usual spot at the corner of Pope Avenue and Office Park Road.

Bands from area high schools and colleges, marchers from non-profit organizations and floats from local businesses, as well as surprise guests are expected to draw a crowd of up to 25,000 revelers.

Kim Capin, Parade Committee Chair, Tom Peebles, and Joe Roces, Owner of Merchant Service Center, The Presenting Sponsor

Applications for commercial, civic, school, club and non-profit parade entries will be accepted until March 5. Entry fees are $200 for businesses and $50 for non-profit organizations. All vehicles and floats must be decorated in Irish themes, and there is a limit of two floats per business. Parade route volunteers are also needed, as well as convertibles and their drivers to drive dignitaries in the parade.

For parade entry information, contact Kim Capin at (843) 384-4035 or Rocky O’Sheill at (843) 837-4956. An entry form is available at the Hilton Head St. Patrick’s Day web site:

To volunteer for the parade route, contact Frank Dunne, Jr., phone: (843) 684-5100, email: or Gabrielle Van De Velde, phone: (843) 422-7720, email:

For car and driver information, contact Lynne Hummell, phone: (843) 290-9860, email:

The Parade starts on Pope Avenue at 3pm on Sunday, March 11.

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