Downtown Great Falls hosted the annual St. Patrick's Day parade on Friday, March 17, 2023.
The parade began at 4:15 p.m. in front of the Civic Center, and headed east down Central Avenue to Eighth Street.
The parade was organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians Great Falls Division 1; click here to visit the Facebook page.
Kevin O'Connell, president of the Great Falls chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said, "What we anticipate this being is the breaker for spring. It doesn't seem like it today, but this is a group made up of Catholic-Irish guys and ladies. We have promoted this for 30 years. The parade has become a tradition. We like to think it's the finest in Great Falls. It's well-attended every year."
He explained, "We put a lot of time in this. This is not a fundraiser for us. This is the Hibernians giving back to the city of Great Falls as well as the Downtown Business Association. We in conjunction get together and put in hours and hours of all kinds of different work. If there is money made from it, everything we do goes back to charitable functions."
Montana and Irish-American history are closely woven together, with the state seeing a large influx of Irish immigrants during the last four decades of the 19th century. Irish values of family, faith, and community have shaped Montana's agricultural, railroad, and industrial cities since the early 20th century.