As it was reported in PennLive, Harrisburg's St. Patrick's Day parade was on Saturday, March 22 which was five days after the official holiday. Because March 17 landed on a Monday this year, parade organizers and the Harrisburg mayor made the decision to post-pone the parade until the weekend. That decision was made for two reasons. First, York County held their St. Patty's Day the previous weekend. The capitol city did not want to put parade registrants and parade-goers in the position of having to pick which parade to attend which would have decreased attendance at both events. Second, with the parade in Harrisburg held on a Saturday, local restaurants grabbed their own pot of gold from the afternoon rush of thousands of parade attendees lining the streets drinking their green beer and eating the Irish food at the various establishments on Second Street.
Amid the mass of high school marching bands, scout troops, community groups, floats, and trail of police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, there are usually a variety of local and state politicians marching in any given parade. At today's St. Patrick's Day parade held in Harrisburg, there were only a few politicians who entered and marched in the parade. Considering this is an election year, the parade would be an excellent opportunity for the candidates running in the gubernatorial race to get out into the community and talk to voters. With the primary coming up on May 20th, today would have been ideal for the candidates to toss some candy and hand out fliers and buttons to the thousands of spectators who are also potential voters. There are eight candidates running for governor and another seven in line for lieutenant governor, and the only politicians spreading the Irish pride were Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, who was also the parade's grand marshal, Congressman Lou Barletta, who is a state representative and Republican from the 11th District, and State Representative (Rep. District 104) Sue Helm, who has been a member of the House since 2007.
Notably absent from today's parade were the heavy-hitters who are expected to be top competitors in the 2014 race for governor. The current PA Governor Tom Corbett, who is running for re-election, was absent at the parade as were his most well-known Democratic challengers: Tom Wolf, Jack Wagner, Allyson Schwartz, Kathleen McGinty, and Rob McCord. Even third party candidates from the Green Party and Libertarian Party did not use this opportunity to canvas voters. In an election year, it is integral to their campaign for politicians running on a ballot get the word out about who they are, what issues are on their platform, and that they are looking for votes. Some of the most successful campaigns are the ones run by grassroots organizers who use canvassing to get the word out about the candidate. What better way to make that happen than to put a smile on their face, hand out some fliers, and talk to the people lined up on the streets watching a parade on a nice spring day. Unfortunately, today was a missed opportunity for the politicians hoping to get into office and one taken by politicians already in office at least two who were successful in getting re-elected. If Papenfuse wants to go for term two, he could take some lessons from Helm and Barletta. Then again, so could the candidates intending to run in the primary.