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The luck of the Irish can be found in Rockford on Saturday.

The Irish Marching Society welcomes everyone to join them in Rockford on Saturday for a St. Patrick's Day parade.
Irish Marching Society
The Irish Marching Society welcomes everyone to join them in Rockford on Saturday for a St. Patrick's Day parade.

Dick Gorman is the treasurer of the Irish Marching Society, and he wants you to know there is rich history behind Rockford's St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“This is our 48th parade," he said, "and it’s been a great run. We’re a volunteer organization and it’s a small group of people that organize the parade, and the party afterwords. There are also a whole host of business sponsors and families that help us put the event together."

Gorman also wants people to know why the parade is so special.

“The parade is a big gathering with 48 entrants participating in the actual parade," he said. "There are many families that come from out of town to the parade because they grew up with it. There is a real family atmosphere associated with the event.”

And, to remind people why it is St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated.

“We really try to drive the importance of the Irish in our community, as well as the importance of our (Irish) heritage," said Gorman. "The Irish are a group of people that played a huge role in the development of the United States.”

When I asked him about the St Patrick’s Day parade, Gorman gave a detailed map of this year’s route through Rockford.

“We start at the Rockford school administration building on Seventh Street," he said, "then walk up to Seventh Street to State Street and then we head toward State Street. We cross the river to Main Street, then head south on Main towards the Embassy Suites. The parade is close to a mile and a half long, so there should be plenty of good viewing spots along the route."

Participants with floats in the Parade will also have an additional chance at recognition. Gorman says there is a bit of gamesmanship on the line.

“We have a competition for the best family float and the best business float," he explained. "Last year's winner was Tabs on the Rock. I won’t say the award goes to the most outrageous float, because that's not fair to say. But you can tell who’s put a lot of effort into it (floats) and taken it to heart. Most of the families know each other, or certainly a lot of them do, so it becomes much more of a competition between the families than it is a competition for the entire event. I mean, there's a little there's a little bit of TOLD YOU SO and bragging rights.”

And with plenty of hard work and perseverance, Gorman said this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities will feature the Rock River dyed green.

"It’s becoming a tradition," he said. "Two years ago, we tried, but we had just some horrible weather. And so not a lot of people saw it. Last year we tried to do it but the dye that we got, which we were told would certainly die the (Rock) river green… Didn't. This year we performed a lot of tests. I'm thinking that the river may become so green that some satellites up in space may look down in the Rockford area and say what's going on with the river down there. It will be it will be green — I promise.”

Once the parade wraps up, the fun sure doesn’t. Music, food, and good times can be had at the Embassy Suites in downtown Rockford.

“Patty Fest goes on from the end of the parade," he said, "which we think will be around 4:30, until 7:30. Or whenever people decide to leave.”

And in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, Gorman offered up some words of wisdom.

“I have a whole host of hats with shamrocks," he said, "and there is a saying underneath the hat that says, 'live lucky.' That's one of the models I try to live by.”

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Rockford kicks off at 3 p.m.
For more information on St. Patrick’s Day events in Rockford, visit irishmarchingsociety.com.

Jason is WNIJ's host of "Morning Edition".