It's only January, but it's never too early for The Valley Community Association to begin celebrating the area's Irish heritage.
The group's Saint Patrick's Day Parade Kick Off Party will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday in the Valley Community Center, 93 Leddy St.
The party, which is open to all, will include the formal announcement of Mary Ellen Kearns Sumbrum as the grand marshal of the association's 19th annual Old Neighborhood St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17.
Sumbrum is a longtime community volunteer at our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and with local youth groups. This year's parade will also be dedicated to the memory of Bill Slattery and Michael Parker. Slattery was once chairman of the board of the Valley Center and a bus driver for the senior program, while Parker was an active volunteer at the center.
The lively Irish band "Poor Ould Goat" will provide music for the party.
Tickets, which can be bought at the door or reserved by calling 823-4707, Ext. 4, are $20 and include draft beer or pop, with wine and other types of beer for sale.
On March 17, Sumbrum will lead the parade, which kicks off at noon, as it retraces the original 1913 parade route through the historic streets of the Valley and Old First Ward.
New groups are welcome to march and can obtain registration forms by calling 823-4707, Ext. 4. The parade will be followed by a grand Irish Hooley at the Valley Center with live Irish music, food and refreshments.