Record crowd packs streets for 26th St. Patrick’s Day Festival

An amazingly warm spring day brought an amazingly large crowd to town on Saturday to celebrate the end of a long winter at Maple Lake’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival.

What has been pronounced as the best weather in the festival’s history by some of those who have witnessed the previous 25 parades, brought temperatures in the mid- 60’s and a record crowd estimated at over 6,000 to Maple Lake.

More than 80 parade units traveled down a sunny parade route, with Maple Lake Lumber taking the $75 first prize award, Holy Cross Lutheran Church winning $50 for second place, and The Irish Washerwomen of the Maple Lake Community Theatre winning $25 for third place. Awarded a rare Honorable Mention with words of thanks from the community was Hoover, the bloodhound used in the search for Joshua Guimond.  Serving as this year’s Grand Marshal was Ken Engel, retiring superintendent of Maple Lake Schools.

The McBrady family, with 94 representatives, captured the Clan Trophy and ended the four-year winning streak by the Fitzpatricks of Waverly.

Crowds of shoppers were also drawn to Maple Lake Elementary and the annual Craft Sale, sponsored by the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce and coordinated by Betty and Dawn Gordon.

Brandi Decker was crowned as the new Miss Maple Lake in coronation ceremonies at the Maple Lake High School gym. Completing the 2003 royal court is Princess Mary Pribyl, Princess Erika Wold, and Miss Congeniality Sara Wurm.

The second annual Irish Scamper 5K race drew a field of 72, with Nathan Hoffman of South Haven taking first place with a time of 16:15. Top female finisher was Jill Brager of Buffalo in a time of 19:30. And the top three Fun Run finishers were Shane Lange, age 9; Andrew Brinza, age 12; and Colt Lange, age 8; all of Maple Lake.