One of world’s smallest parades returns to Village of Carmangay

A long-standing tradition in a small southern Alberta village is staying alive, even after a devastating fire last year.

Carmangay’s St. Patrick’s Day parade — touted as the world’s shortest — carried on Thursday, in spite of the loss of the historic Grange Hotel,  the site of post-parade festivities.

The one-block-long parade started in the 1980s, when the then-owner of the Grange,  Jim O’Connor went down the block to the post office to pick up his mail.

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He found his friend, George Johnson at the post office and invited him over to the hotel bar for a green beer to celebrate the Irish holiday.

The pair deemed their short walk to the hotel as the world’s shortest parade, and since then the tradition lives on in the Village of Carmangay.

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This year, the parade lasted just over three minutes and ended at the site of the former site of the hotel, where a small mailbox painted green now stands.

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George Peterson, an old friend of the late O’Connor, gave a poetic toast to end the parade and start the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

“Here’s to Jim,” Peterson said. “He can’t be here today, but I’m sure his spirit is here to stay. Here’s to the Grange, it stood for 110 years. When it burned down, it brought me to tears. Seems strange that neither are here. So, I think I’ll just stand here and have a beer. Happy St. Paddy’s Day.”

Afterwards, everyone gathered at the Carmangay Curling Club for beer and Irish stew.

Kym Nichols, mayor of Carmangay, said it was great to get to do it again.

“It kind of marks the end of winter, and it’s a good reason to celebrate,” said Nichols. “Who doesn’t like green beer?”

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Deputy mayor Doug Fraser grew up in the village and said he is proud of the annual tradition.

“It’s just one of those days that everybody is happy. It’s nice to be part of it,” said Fraser.

Parade-goer Tony Wolak has been attending the events for seven years, dressing in all green and sending photos of the event to his Irish friends.

“I love the whole hoopla; having fun and having some drinks and seeing people. That’s what it’s all about,” said Wolak. “I just wish everybody a happy St Patrick’s Day, to all my Irish friends and everybody that came here.”

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