The spring festival season got off to a green start Saturday with the St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza in downtown Mansfield.
There were Elvis-wannabes on minibikes, a parade of pets and live music galore, including from Grammy-award winners Asleep at the Wheel.
But mostly there were pickles: Pickle queens, people dressed as pickles, pickle balloons and giant (fake) pickles.
The sixth annual event drew thousands of visitors to a downtown that’s just started rediscovering itself in the last few years. More local businesses are opening shop and thriving as Mansfield revitalizes Main Street.
Organizers anticipated 35,000 to 45,000 visitors throughout the course of the day-long event.
This year’s theme, “Need more Kowbell,” focused on Mansfield’s long-gone Kowbell Rodeo & Arena, which had weekly rodeo events for decades before being torn down in 2004.
Allison Gilmore sat along Main Street to watch the parade with her parents. Her husband, owner of the Level 5 Design Group, rode on the float representing LOT Downtown, a Mansfield music venue that Level 5 designed and built. The LOT has been an integral part of downtown’s revitalization.
“We’ve been coming about four years,” said Gilmore, a Mansfield resident. “It supports the town. It’s a fun family gathering.”
The parade had nearly 100 floats, including one representing Best Maid Pickles, the inspiration for Mansfield becoming the official Pickle Capital of Texas.
Emily Christy, marketing manager for Best Maid Pickles, and her team had a steady line of people coming to buy pickles from their booth. For another dollar, customers could earn a chance to spin the wheel to win more cool pickle swag (who knew?). Proceeds from the spin went to the North Texas Make a Wish Foundation.
“It’s been a real treat. We’ve been part of Mansfield since 1926,” Christy said. “We love coming out to see all these crazy pickle people.”
Jessie Wente, director of development for Make a Wish North Texas, said this is the second year they’ve partnered with Best Maid Pickles at the festival.
“There’s actually a wish kid riding in the pickle car. His wish is to go to Disney World.” Wente said. “They’re donating money for a good cause.”