March 8, 2014
The fourth annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in St. Augustine
The fourth annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, in St. Augustine, Florida, was held on March 8, 2014. Parade participants report that the parade was well organized. On March 5, 2014, a well attended organizational meeting, was conducted by Sherri Cunningham. From the St. Augustine Tea Party’s (SATP) perspective, the parade went off as planned. Parade Marshals were most helpful and reported that there were twice as many floats as the previous year. As the various floats passed the reviewing stand, it was noted that there was a large attending audience at the reviewing stand location. As the Dartmouth and the SATP’s walking contingent passed the people assembled at the reviewing stand, it received a large, warm and approving round of applause from the public. The applause never stopped along the parade route, but it was in less intensity because the parade was not attended as well as previous St. Patrick’s Day parades. At some points along the way, there were few or no persons on the street or sidewalks. This reporter concludes that forecasts of temperatures in the 40s in the early morning and the fact that the parade was scheduled so far in advance from the actual St. Patrick’s Day accounted for the reduced attendance. Those in attendance and the participants in the parade all seemed to have had a very good time in what turned out to be a delightful day.
Is the Tea Party movement in decline?
The SATP likes to engage in St. Augustine’s parades as it allows the group to assess local acceptance. On St. George Street, the SATP’s Town Crier Committee engages a national audience. While visitors are present for parades, large numbers of locals are also present.
The SATP has participated in three of the last four parades. The first St. Patty’s Day parade in St. Augustine occurred on March 12, 2011. The parade was extensive and the crowds were large and robust. A Tea Party member, who was present, reports that he witnessed from the bow of the Dartmouth that the Tea Party presence was enthusiastically embraced by the crowds. However, the GOP float, which was directly in front of the Dartmouth, received only a polite response. The idea that the Tea Party had grown beyond meetings and rallies and was now a movement in the minds of the people first occurred at this event. [At the time most Tea Parties were controlled by the Republican Party] A spokesman for the Tea Party revealed that from this observation, over a period of several months, the members of the SATP began taking the Tea Party’s message to the streets. “It should be pointed out that the Republican leadership of the SATP, at the time, was just as concerned that the Tea Party would damage the GOP image as the leadership of the Republican National Committee is today,” a Tea Party person said. “Our GOP leadership actually told us we could not use Gadsden Flags in parades as it might offend someone.”
With 12 Gadsden flags flying, and new SATP leadership, the SATP participated in their second St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 10, 2012. The Dartmouth was not available for this parade as its owner and builder, Glenn Lord, had relocated. A float featuring “Betsy Ross” was created by Cindy Falco, SATP Events Chairman at the time. Cindy has since relocated to South Florida and continues her good work there. But her float and the Tea Party were well accepted at the second annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, according to the Tea Party members who were at the event.
When asked about today’s event and how it differed from the prior events, a Tea Party member answered, “Well, today we had more people present than we’ve had before. We had fewer rejections and it appeared that there was greater support. We had mostly new faces on board and walking. And we had more young people than before. We also had people, who are not active Tea Party members, joining us because they wanted to be associated with the Tea Party movement.” He continued with, “When you do good works and you tell the truth, good things just come to you. So it is with the Dartmouth. We are honored to have Mr. Lord entrust the Dartmouth to our ‘grassroots’ Tea Party. Its construction had to be a labor of love and dedication to the ‘Liberty Movement’. By the way, to the progressives out there, the ‘Koch Brothers’ did not fund it. That will be accomplished by individuals who love Liberty. To anyone who has any doubts about the Tea Party movement growing and expanding, come join us; it is a site to behold, HOORAH!”