Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrates 30th year

The Kelly's St. Patrick's Day Parade celebrates its 30th year this Sunday. [Photo courtesy Kelly's St. Patrick's Day Parade via Facebook]

It started three decades ago as a community event to chase away the winter doldrums and prepare for the summer season.

Today, the Kelly’S St. Patrick’s Day Parade is North Carolina’s largest St. Patty’s parade, featuring more than 100 entrants and as many as 8,000 spectators.

Mike Kelly, owner of the now-closed Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant and Tavern, started the parade and kept the tradition going once Kelly’s closed.

This year’s parade kicks off at 1 p.m., Sunday, March 17 at Bladen Street and the Beach Road at milepost 11.5 in Nags Head.

Typically a mile-long, this year’s route will be about a half-mile shorter due to stormwater improvement construction in the Gallery Row area.

This year’s parade will end at Admiral Street, where a traffic light at the street’s intersection with U.S. 158 will provide a safer means of departing the area, the Town of Nags Head said in a news release.

A panel of judges will be on hand to award entrants in the following categories: best overall, best float, best unit and best band/music group. Prizes will be awarded following the parade.