The 8th annual World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade and Palooza returns March 15-16 in historic downtown with live music, parades, a kid zone, cornhole tournament and keg races.
The free event drew an estimated 45,000 people last year and John Pressley, president of the Pickled Mansfield Society, said they’re anticipating an even bigger crowd this year.
The theme for this year is Moon Rocks! celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.
“We expect aliens, starships and little strange looking things all over downtown,” said Pickle Queen Amanda Kowalski, who founded the World’s Only Pickle Parade in 2012.
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She helped start the event in 2012 as a way to showcase downtown while being inspired by Mansfield’s history as the home of Best Maid Pickles at West Debbie Lane and North Main Street.
“We have a beautiful historic downtown and we want people to come,” Kowalski said.
Whether it’s the pet parade, the baby parade, the Pickle Run or pickle eating contest, “Pickle Queens will be reigning over all of it. We don’t just get on the float and wave,” Kowalski said.
But like Santa Claus, the Pickle Queens are the finale for the parade each year, holding court atop their float.
Changes for 2019
Construction on South Main Street meant organizers had to make some changes for the parade route and Pickle Run for 2019.
As always, the parade starts at St. Jude Catholic Church but instead of going on Dallas Street to Main Street, the parade will head north on Waxahachie Street, turn west on East Broad Street and then north on Main Street.
From there it will follow a similar route to previous years but the overall length of the route will be shorter. So, the parade was limited to 75 floats instead of the usual, which was about 100 so the parade wouldn’t be “head to tail” running into itself, Pressley said.
The South Main Street project is scheduled to be completed by November so it shouldn’t interfere with future Pickle Parades. The finished $3 million project will have angled parking on both sides of the street, concrete sidewalks, tree planters, bike racks and decorative lighting and benches.
“It will be beautiful next year when they get it finished,” Pressley said.
Schedule of events
The fun begins at 5 p.m. Friday with the first Cornhole Tournament at Smith and Oak Street.
“It’s something you can play and compete while having a drink in your hands and your kids can play around,” Kowalski said. “You can still listen to the bands playing. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The pet parade has moved to Friday, also at 5 p.m. This event features the usual dogs but don’t be surprised to see some pigs, a longhorn calf and other animals.
The second annual Beer Keg Race returns to Main Street at 6 p.m. The one-of-a-kind race has all the intensity of a go-kart drag race and the ingenuity to add kegs of beer to the mix.
“It turned out to be a huge success. Everyone had a magnificent time watching the homemade go-karts with kegs on them racing up and down Main Street,” Pressley said.
At 7 p.m., King David Band will perform a free concert on the main stage. Saturday’s festivities start at 8 a.m. with the Pickle Runs. There’s a 10K, a 5K and Kids K all starting at 500 E. Dallas.
At 9 a.m., there’s a free concert by Run 4 Cover, which appropriately plays covers. The baby parade will be on Main Street at 11 a.m. to get people warmed up for the main parade at 1 p.m.
Country artist Phineus Reb will take the main stage at 2:30 p.m. There will be pickle eating and pickle juice-drinking contest and a pie eating contest.
Capping off the day, Lauren Corzine will give a free concert at 5:30 p.m. on the main stage.
Free parking and shuttles
The Pickle Parade will have free shuttles and free parking at Legacy High School all day on March 16. There will be 11 shuttles running.
Free parking will also be available at R.L. Anderson Stadium, Rogene Worley Middle School, Alice Ponder Elementary School, Phoenix Academy and Geyer Field.
Admission to all the St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade and Palooza events is free.
Portions of Main Street, East Broad Street and other roads in downtown will be closed Saturday for the main stage, food vendors, parades and other events.