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Sellwood festival again celebrates St. Patricks Day

IRISH FOR A DAY


For the first time in many years, clouds held back the rain until most of the revelers had made it back to the starting point – at the Sellwood-Westmoreland 15th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival, by and at St. Agatha’s Catholic School, on March 16.

And, new this year, a “5K Fun Run” kicked off the celebration at 11 am.

At noon, a squadron of ten Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division motorcycle officers guided the parade from the host site at the school, on S.E. 15th Avenue. The cheerful procession made its way south to S.E. Tacoma Street, then west to S.E. 13th Avenue, then north around the neighborhood, circling back to the school.

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Out steps Sellwood's 15th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade -  heading out from St. Agatha's Catholic Church and School. “It’s wonderful to see the whole community come out and support this event,” commented the event’s organizer, and St. Agatha Catholic School’s “Parents in Partnership” President, Amy Delegato.

“We do it for our community,” Delegato told THE BEE. “And we love the support we get from the Sellwood Middle School Band, the Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance, and others as well.”

In total, about 140 volunteers work to put on the day-long celebration, she said. “The St. Patrick’s Day event was started as a fundraiser, but really we just break even. This year we should have a little profit, thanks to donations by many of our vendors.”

After the parade, participants headed into the St. Agatha Parish Hall and also the Beer Garden tent for traditional Irish fare – a corned beef and cabbage dinner, corned beef sandwiches, shepherd’s pie, and Irish sausage rolls. Ireland’s famous Guinness beer was also on tap.

After taking a break for a couple of years, the founders of the event – professional chefs Lisa and Brian Quinn, long-time St. Agatha Catholic School parents – were back in the kitchen this year.

“Fifteen years ago, we started the festival to raise money to build the school,” Brian Quinn recalled. “We prepared the food in our restaurant at the time, the Ivy House [now “Cha Cha Cha Taqueria”], got the street closed off, and had a celebration here in the Parish Hall.”

After nine years, the Quinns turned over the event to the St. Agatha Catholic School parents, who expanded the festival. “This year, we are back!” Quinn smiled.

In the school’s gymnasium, carnival games abounded, including the ever-popular “Cake Walk”.

“The best part for me,” Delegato said, “Is seeing the returning faces – and I get to say hello. My next-favorite thing is meeting people who are new the event, and finding out how they heard about us. For me, it’s always all about the people.”