Fire trucks, marching bands and grown men on mini-bikes dressed as Elvis Presley. And that’s just the first couple floats for Mansfield’s St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade and
Palooza on Saturday. The massive parade boasted nearly 100 entries ranging from classic cars to an ambulance monster truck.
It took more than an hour for the entire procession to wind through Main Street, down Smith Street and then down East Broad Street.
Much like Santa Claus bringing up the rear for Christmas parades, Mansfield’s own Pickle Queens are always the finale. The 16 queens wear red wigs, green dresses and tiaras. They were spread out on two floats, throwing green beads and rocking out to Joan Jett.
Before the parade, Joe Rasatatter sat in a folding chair on Main Street with his wife, Lois, and granddaughter Makayla Rollen, anticipating the show. He’s surprised at how the parade has grown in just five years. The first year, he marched with St. Jude Catholic Church.
“Even that year, it was huge,” he said. “We looked down at the crowd and thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’”
Mansfield police estimated attendance this year between 20,000-25,000.
Jason Daugherty brought his family to the event for the first time. They knew about the parade but his kids were pleasantly surprised to find the bounce houses and other activities in the kids area.
“A bunch of folks in the neighborhood say they bring the kids out,” he said. “There’s lots of family-oriented things to do.”
Marching bands from Mansfield High School and Pantego Christian Academy got the crowd going with some upbeat tunes. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders strutted down Main Street, too, along with a life-size pickle.
New this year was the pet parade on Oak Street on Saturday morning. Dogs ruled here, but there were also a handful of pigs being wheeled in strollers.
Sir Chunk, an aptly named English bulldog, won best in show with his boxers and shirt with St. Patrick’s Day designs. His owner Michael Adams said they found the pajamas in the kids section at the store.
Other entries included a Chihuahua with a leprechaun hat and green jacket and more than one dog with a tutu.
On the main stage, Kraig Parker rocked the crowd with his Elvis tribute performance, complete with large hair and jump suit.
The event underscores downtown Mansfield’s resurgence as the Main Street strip gets to the limelight.
Nowhere was that more apparent than at the Farr Best Theater, which just signed a lease with the Mansfield Commission for the Arts. Rhonda Meadows, commission member and daughter of the owner, Charles Morales, had a steady stream of curious visitors who want to learn more about the 99-year-old theater.
“Being a newly formed commission it’s a great time for us to be able reach out to the community because we’re looking for volunteers, different kinds of artists and funding,” Meadows said.
The plan is to get plays, concerts and other events going in the theater by October.
Nathan Castles, who owns Aria Grace along with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, was also enjoying having a large crowd milling about his downtown store.
“We anticipate this,” he said. “We know the pickle parade is a tradition and it brings a lot of people down here.”