Updated March 20, 2018. 2 p.m.
By Richard Taylor
The Lucky Charmers from Morehead City finally found the jackpot at the end of the rainbow when they captured the first prize in Saturday’s Third Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The group of 10 women sported custom-made T-shirts, each with her own name on the back, such as, “O’ Shenanigan, O’Sassy Lass, O’Blitzed, O’Schnockered” and “O’Tanked.”
Also known as “The O’Bar Drinking Team,” they were a crowd favorite as they rode laughing down the road on their bikes decorated with green streamers.
Zach the Leprechaun, grand poohbah of tomfoolery, awarded them the $550 cash prize inside the Ocracoke Bar & Grille, the parade terminus.
“We donated $100 to the ball field,” said Carlie Quillen of Newport.
Second-place went to Keith and Crystal Hardt, part-time islanders from Washington, N.C, with their huge green hat and rainbow-decorated golf cart.
The Jeffrey Walter and Jessica Caldwell family of Ocracoke captured third place with their car topped by a huge green hat.
Under cloudy skies and a few raindrops, parade-watchers and participants gathered at 1718 Brewing Ocracoke where the parade began at 1:30 p.m.
Leprechauns of all sizes in green gear, pastel painted ponies, emerald beer in the bars and shamrock symbols were everywhere on Saturday.
A dozen or so entries provided ample entertainment to onlookers scattered along both sides of Irvin Garrish Highway.
Parade sponsor and “O’Bar” owner Sean Death began the parade two years ago.
“Every year we reach out and hire a little person,” he said. “It’s like their biggest holiday of the year and they can come here and make a bit of loot.”
This year, Death hired Zach Morris of Tucson, Arizona. Riding majestically on the back of Death’s golf cart, Morris blew his whistle to start the parade. He tossed candy to spectators and kids along the quarter-mile route.
Woccocon Oyster Co. owner Steve Wilson rode in his fishing boat pulled by a pickup. The waterman stopped often to pass out the freshly shucked oysters to eager patrons. Wilson was all smiles, as he gave away nearly 100 of the briny bi-valves during the parade.
A group of Ocracat supporters asked the question “What was Blackbeard’s 1718 quest?” Printed on green poster board, the answer read, “To find an Ocracat.” A menacing, mysterious person in a huge papier mache lion mask pranced behind that cart, brandishing a plastic cutlass as if trying to scare 300 years of fear into onlookers.
Angela Long, riding with son Jordan DeLeon on horse Clayton (who turned 7 on Saturday), and daughter Kayli DeLeon on miniature mount Rosie, brought up the parade’s end. This local family of riders had carefully groomed their horse’s manes and hooves with green dye.
While many locals participated, some came a quite a distance to party on the island.
Doug and Tracy Kasper, with their son, A.J., came from Manasquan, N.J., for the weekend to celebrate Tracy’s 50th birthday on Saturday.
“It’s my favorite place,” Tracy said above the din of the partying crowd in the O’Bar.
Six appropriately adorned “Drunks” drove down from Chesapeake, Virginia, Friday night, unaware of the pending parade.
The group got their St. Patty’s Day gear from a midnight run to Walmart on the way.
“We didn’t know this was going on,” said group leader Dave Harrington. “We just came down here for the heck of it.” He said the parade would keep the group “out of trouble for half an hour.”
That gregarious group of six wore T-shirts reading “Drunk 1, Drunk 2, Drunk 3” and so on. Member Andy Macey showed off his goatee brushed with green dye.
“We’ll be here next here year too,” said Bruce Davidson said.
Death was happy with the turnout, noting some repeat parade entries.
“I love all the participation, and also from the island,” he said. “Promoting the other businesses is awesome.”