Irish I was in the Land of Malcolm | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Irish I was in the Land of Malcolm

In 1983 Jacksonian Malcolm White was the manager of the George Street Grocery (now Ole Tavern) when he had the idea to start a fun, anything-goes parade for the community. White says he called a few of his friends, got a permit from the city and started marching in downtown Jackson during rush-hour traffic.

Today, the Mal's St. Paddy's Parade attracts a crowd of approximately 50,000 and is the third largest St. Patrick's Day event in the country.

"We wanted to give people a sense of place and have a sense of humor," White says. "It has always been very loose and fun."

White shared his favorite memories and themes from the parade over the past 28 years.

1983:
• The theme is "Put Some Irish in Your Soul."
• The parade consists of White's friends and community members.
• The route starts at CS's on North West Street and ends at the George Street Grocery.
• Parade takes place on a Thursday, causing major traffic delays.
• Three friends—Jill Conner Browne, Vivian Neill and Cheri Anglin—dress up as queens with outfits bought from a thrift store, and throw sweet potatoes from the back of a green Chevrolet pickup truck, starting the now-famous tradition of the Sweet Potato Queens.

1984:
• The theme is "Irish I was in the Land of Cotton"
• Artist David Adcock is the grand marshal of the parade and plays an important role for several years offering creative input.
• The parade day is moved to Saturday to spare commuters.

1985: Parade and festival takes place at the Mississippi Fairgrounds.

1986: Parade grand marshal is musician Tiny Tim.

1987: The parade starts and ends at Hal & Mal's.

2001: The theme "Space Oddity" brings out zombies, aliens and characters of all sorts.

2002:
• The theme "2002, A Palindrome," brings out parade marchers' and krewes' creativity in coming up with words and phrases that are the same forward as backward.
• During this time, White changes the route to include Lamar Street to showcase downtown developments.

2009:
• The parade theme is "Recycle, Rethink, Rejoice Downtown."
• The Trustmark's Children's Festival is moved from the Old Capitol to the Mississippi Museum of Art.
• The parade attracts a crowd of approximately 50,000.

2010: The parade theme is "It's Not Easy Being Green," in honor of Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets.

Support our reporting -- Become a JFP VIP.

The news business has changed dramatically in the past year, and we need your help more than ever to keep bringing you important stories about Jackson and the Metro. Become a JFP VIP with an annual membership or you can Sign up as a monthly supporter. Thanks for anything you can do to empower our journalism!

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus