First Parade Party Gives Fundraising a Big Kickstart
Judging by the crowd in the brand-new Fraternal Order of Police Heroes Ballroom in the Great Northeast on Sunday afternoon, fund-raising for the 2013 Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade is off with a bang.
“We think we’re between 600 and 700 people,” said Bob Gessler, president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, as he looked out on a crowd that also crammed the FOP hall’s spacious lobby, where long lines of party-goers queued up for baked ziti, hot roast beef sandwiches, potato salad, and meatballs. When asked how much money the event might have raised toward the roughly $75,000 it costs to stage the Sunday, March 10, parade, Gessler wasn’t sure at that point, but he said: “I think it’s going to make a very large dent in it.”
Gessler also praised the FOP for its generosity. “We’re ecstatic that they’re working with us,” he said. “We’ve actively been trying to do something with them. They’ve just been fantastic, and this place is beautiful.”
Although the union did charge the association for the use of the hall at Comly and Caroline in the Normandy neighborhood—an impressive step up from the union’s former digs at Broad and Spring Garden—Gessler said the fundraiser benefited from what he referred to as “the grand marshal discount.” This year’s grand marshal is retired Philadelphia Police Officer Harry Marnie, longtime member of the FOP and president of the Emerald Society. Marnie was on hand to enjoy the party, too.
And what a swell party it was, with non-stop tunes from No Irish Need Apply, Jamison, and the Bogside Rogues, and entertainment by the Celtic Flame Irish Dancers.
We have a big photo essay, above. Check it out.
And don’t get complacent: the parade isn’t paid for yet. You can help put the parade on the street at the next huge fundraiser Sunday, March 3, at Cardinal O’Hara High School, 1701 Sproul Road in Springfield, Delaware County. The event runs from 3 to 7 p.m., with music by Sláinte and The Round Tower Band. and performances by McDade, Cara, & McHugh Schools of Irish Dance. The cost of admission is $25 for adults, and $10 for students. The price includes buffet and entertainment. There’s a cash bar. Details at the parade website.