Some longtime Royal Oak residents walk the parade route in 2019.

Some longtime Royal Oak residents walk the parade route in 2019.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Royal Oak St. Patrick’s Day parade is back

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published March 4, 2024


ROYAL OAK — After a hiatus lasting four years due to COVID-19, the Royal Oak St. Patrick’s Day parade is back.

The parade will begin at noon March 16 at Royal Oak Middle School, travel down Washington Avenue and then turn westbound onto West Seventh Street.

Al Carter, chairperson of the parade committee, will be running a parade for the first time.

Formerly the public information officer for the Royal Oak Police Department, Carter has always been an involved member of the Royal Oak community and participated in St. Patrick’s Day parades in the past with his fellow police officers.

“I have marched for multiple years with the Royal (Oak) Honor Guard — they lead the parade with the flag — and my wife would bring the kids, and it has always been a tradition,” he said.

Carter got the position of chairperson when he ran into previous committee member Carol Hennessey.

“She was a really big part of the parade in the past and I asked her when we were going to bring the parade back,” he said.

Hennessey ended up asking Carter to be the Chairperson, and to spearhead the parade for the 2024 year.

Running a parade has not been a walk in the park, according to Carter, and the process has been much more than he anticipated.

“We were actually looking at a budget of $11,000, and started with zero,” he said. “There are many different businesses that stepped forward and helped us out with getting our budget off the ground so that we could actually put on the parade.”

This year the parade has a sponsorship with the Royal Oak Leprechauns, and team Vice President Rocky Shattuck is excited to be involved not only as a sponsor, but as secretary of the parade’s committee.

Shattuck got involved in the parade when Steven Zanetti, the previous parade chairman, approached him at Berkley’s Irish Fest, asking him to become a part of the committee for the Royal Oak St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Being the vice president of the Royal Oak Leprechauns, it only made sense that the team joined in to sponsor the parade.

“Obviously, with the Royal Oak Leprechauns, a St. Patrick’s Day parade is a no-brainer to cross promote,” he said. “So, we had the opportunity to sponsor the parade, to have those naming rights. It was a great opportunity for our program, and we are super thankful for that.”

The team will be participating in the parade, riding the team bus that has the Leprechauns logo on its side.

Being a part of bringing back this “iconic” parade is something Shattuck said everyone is looking forward to.

“It’s so cool to bring this opportunity back to the community and enjoy it every year,” he said. “We are prideful in the fact that this is a family event, and it is an opportunity for family and friends to get together and really enjoy themselves.”

Carter is grateful for the Leprechauns sponsorship and said it was one of the main reasons that bringing back the parade was possible.

This year the parade is going to be showcasing veterans and other community-driven entities in the city of Royal Oak.

“We are going to have the (Veterans of Foreign Wars) group marching along with several other veteran groups,” Carter said.

Royal Oak Schools also is going to be featured in the parade, Carter said, and the committee has been in touch with Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick to set it up.

“She is going to lead the parade with us, along with principals from other elementary schools,” he said. “Four of them have already committed, and we are going to have the principals and teachers featured that are going to be marching in the parade.”

Carter said that when creating this parade, he and the committee put an emphasis on businesses and community-based organizations.

“We want the community involved. Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day in my mind, and we’re not only going to highlight heritage and pride with that, but our community that we all live in,” he said.