VENTURA : St. Patrick's Day Parade Expected to Be Twice as Grand--and as Green

Saturday's second Ventura County St. Patrick's Day Parade promises to be twice as large and every bit as green as last year's event.

The procession, starting at 11 a.m. at Main Street and Ventura Avenue in downtown Ventura, is expected to draw the limit of 100 entries, more than twice as many as the 40 attractions of last year, said parade Director Bob Pollioni.

Pollioni said Ventura Councilman and former Mayor James L. Monahan, the grand marshal, will set the mood by carrying "Paddy's Pig," a green-dyed piglet, as the parade travels south along Main to its final destination at Ash Street.

The porker is "only green for the day," Pollioni said, noting that its nontoxic coloring can easily be washed off.

Other parade highlights will include a Blarney Castle float representing the King and I restaurant, whose leprechaun entry won the unofficial top prize in 1989; the marching bands of Ventura and Buena high schools; the "Big Red Locomotive" of the American Legion's Forty and Eight Society; a green fire engine provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, and the Ventura Trolley, carrying mayors and other officials from throughout the county.

Other highlights include Irish dancers and minstrels, equestrian groups and a drum and bugle corps representing the Elks lodges of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

As it did last year, the parade will include some of the county's families of Irish descent marching in traditional Old Country costumes.

Continuing another of last year's attractions, the public is invited to a corned beef and cabbage meal starting at noon and continuing all afternoon at the Elks Lodge, 11 S. Ash St.

The meal, which will be accompanied by Irish entertainment, costs $6 in advance or $8 at the door. Advance tickets can be bought from parade committee members or by calling the lodge at 653-1430.

Monahan, chairman of the parade committee and a longtime advocate of a St. Patrick's Day celebration in the county, said the event has two goals--to honor the county's Irish and would-be Irish, and "to recognize the good work of the Elks, Rotary, Lions and other service organizations."

He added that several service groups will have entries in the parade.

Pollioni predicted that this year's crowd will easily exceed last year's 10,000.

"We'll not only have a much bigger parade, but we'll be helped because this time around St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday."

Not everybody in Ventura, however, is an all-out parade enthusiast. Kevin Seelos, manager of the Main Street Home Furniture Collection, which operates three furniture stores on Main Street, said he and his brother, Brian, the firm's owner, believe the event's mid-Saturday scheduling will be harmful to downtown retailers.

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