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St. Patty’s Day parade has Madison roots

Bob Jones junior Kayleigh Vinson was the queen of the St. Patrick's Day parade.

Madison County is going green on March 17.

More than 100 participants will take to the street for the 34th Annual Ellen McAnelly Memorial St. Patrick’s Day parade, which begins at 11:30 a.m. at the corner of Monroe and Spragins streets in downtown Huntsville.

“Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Sonnie Hereford IV, parade coordinator.

The parade will continue south on Jefferson street around the courthouse then loop back north on Washington to the starting point.

Hereford, who is a Madison resident and 1979 graduate of Notre Dame, has coordinated the parade since 1996 and remembers the year when the parade took a different route and had a different name.

Three days before Huntsville’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1997 then Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer notified the parade committee that the parade permit had been denied due to safety concerns.

Hereford quickly notified media and parade participations that parade was cancelled.

On Saturday morning, then Madison Mayor Chuck Yancura offered to host the parade in Madison. Hereford reversed the cancellation and notified everyone of the new location.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “It was quite an operation.”

Hereford said he believes that year was one of the biggest and best ever.

“It was huge,” Hereford said. “The turnout was fantastic. I don’t remember that we lost a single entry.”

In 1998 the parade returned to Huntsville, but the name was officially changed to “Madison County’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

This year the parade will have a little more Madison influence with Bob Jones High School junior Kayleigh Vinson serving as queen.

“I am so excited,” Vinson said. “It’s a big honor.”

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