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III Marine Expeditionary Force Band helps celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Koza parade

OKINAWA CITY, OKINAWA, Japan (March 21, 2008) -- Amidst a procession of mostly green-clad paraders, the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band’s tightly-formed ranks of red, white, blue and khaki stood out during the 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Chuo Park Avenue near Kadena Air Base March 15.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/lookupstoryref/2008323231048

March 21, 2008; Submitted on: 03/23/2008 11:10:48 PM ; Story ID#: 2008323231048
By Lance Cpl. Robert C. Frenke , MCB Camp Butler

The Marines performed in front of hundreds of spectators who gathered for the weekend St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, who brought Christianity to the country in the 5th century. It is widely believed he died on March 17, and people all over the world celebrate his life on that date.

“I thought it was great seeing (the III MEF Band) come out and perform, doing what they do best,” said Lance Cpl. Jimmy Drennan, a motor transportation operator with 7th Communications Battalion, III MEF Headquarters Group, who attended the celebration.

Chuo Park Avenue, which is a popular street known for its many bars, restaurants and retail stores, closed to vehicle traffic from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the parade. Paddy Mac’s Irish Pub and the Chuo Park Avenue business community hosted the event.

Martin McIntyre, owner of Paddy Mac’s Irish Pub, led the parade down the street.

Vendors provided green beverages – including slushys and beer – and Irish food and many local foods.

Other performers in the parade included the ‘What’s Up’ Akemi Dance School, the Misato High School Band and Manly Slough on bagpipes.

“This is mine and my daughter’s first time seeing this parade,” said Jin Meku, a reporter with Japan Times. “This parade is new to the Okinawan people. It was very interesting.”

Following the parade, spectators made their way to the main stage for live Irish and Okinawan music. Performers included Irish music bands Yonamine-san, The Islanders, The Explode, an Okinawan Music Band Shima Gais among other bands.

The stage show also included a clown show and demonstrations of karate and kendo.

The St. Patrick’s Day celebration continued throughout the weekend at Paddy Mac’s, with live performances by local bands.