PO Box 2771 Cedar Rapids, IA 52406 [email protected]
SaPaDaPaSo is a non-profit organization run by volunteers. The group is responsible for organizing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade each year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The parade is held every year on March 17th regardless of weather conditions. The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade celebration in 1990 had an estimated attendance of 50,000 spectators.
Each year judges are selected for the parade. The panel of judges usually consists of well known individuals from the community, such as radio and TV personalities, local celebrities, and City Council members. The judges are responsible for judging entries in a number of different categories such as best costumes, walking entries, and best Irish theme.
Several memorial awards honoring past members of SaPaDaPaSo are handed out. Family members of these individuals help select the recipients of these memorial awards which are “floating trophies” that the winner has for a year. The judges are sequestered immediately following the parade while they make their final decisions. It is said that these “discussions” have often been lively conversations.
The After-Parade celebration begins immediately following the close of the parade. This party is held at a local establishment in the downtown Cedar Rapids area. In the past, it has been held at the Roosevelt Hotel, the Emerald Knight’s Bingo Hall, the Armstrong’s building, and more recently at The Flamingo. This is a boisterous celebration, with a “Sea of Green” activity.
Each year prior to the parade, SaPaDaPaSo members nominate an Irish Colleen as a representative of the club. She is a young girl of Irish decent who is selected by a panel of judges, based upon a questionnaire. She serves as a hostess at the Irish Hooley, rides in a convertible during the parade, and helps distribute awards at the after-parade celebration. The Irish Colleen is an extra touch of class for the parade, and is considered a position of honor and prestige in the Irish community.
The club sponsors an annual Irish Hooley each year in March shortly before the parade. The Hooley is the club’s major fundraiser for the year, and everyone is welcome to attend. It is a festive family-friendly celebration of music, song and dance.