While many of Sedona’s events strive to bring tourists to the city, the St. Patrick’s Parade is one of the few big ones aimed primarily at locals, though visitors are obviously more than welcome to attend.

Schoolchildren, businesses, clubs and nonprofits from around Sedona and the Verde Valley will be joined by public officials and municipal staff and representatives of Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, both Yavapai and Coconino counties, the U.S. Forest Service and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Entrants come from as far away as Chino Valley and Flagstaff.

Northern Arizona University students do much of the grunt work to make sure the event goes off without a hitch for the several thousand attendees and they individually and collectively deserve thanks.

This will be the first time in decades the event will not be managed by the Sedona Main Street Program, of which I was a board member. The SMSP decided to dissolve earlier this year in part because of diminished membership and also because the SMSP’s vision is effectively accomplished; the Uptown area has been beautified, nearly all of the retail spaces are occupied by profitable businesses and communication between the merchants, the city of Sedona and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce is open, clear and collaborative.

Most Uptown merchants are still opposed to parking meters on State Route 89A, but a new business alliance would be better designed to fight, cope with or offset that issue than a nonprofit heavily dependent on city funding for its operations.

At a meeting with Uptown merchants and stakeholders in January, those in attendance made it clear that even if the SMSP organization decided to dissolve, three of the four popular events it managed should continue:

  • The Safe & Fun Trick or Treat sort of runs itself, with merchants’ support. Martha Edwards’ performances of “Thriller” on Jordan Road will likely continue in partnership with Cedic Plaza offering a “backstage” and the Sedona Police Department blocking that portion of road for the performance area.
  • Sedona’s Tree Lighting & Santa Visit will be folded into the chamber’s Holiday Central, which runs holiday-related events all over Sedona.
  • National Day of the Cowboy looks like it will be no more, but many of the merchants didn’t participate anyway.
  • St. Patrick’s Parade is a major event requiring a lot of labor and effort but will be undertaken by the Sedona Parks & Recreation Department.

This year, there was not enough time to host the festival portion of the event, but I and others hope it will return in 2018 now the city department has a year to prepare.

Being part Irish — Clan McElwee of County Fermanagh on my mother’s side — I always looked forward to corned beef and cabbage and a pint of beer listening to Celtic music and gossiping with residents after the parade.

There simply aren’t that many events in town where so many of Sedona’s isolated cliques blend together allowing people to meet and chat as equals. That is the major component of a small-town community as well as one of the key facets of Irish culture: Every Irishman is equal at the pub.

Please enjoy this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade on Saturday, March 11, and send feedback to the city’s Parks & Recreation Department to help improve the festival in the years to come.
Éirinn go Brách.