Mansfield Pickle Parade & Palooza Is One Of a Kind
Since 2012, those crazy kids in Mansfield have turned their downtown green, packed with shamrock-wearing briny cucumber lovers for the World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza.
Dogs, babies, leprechauns and Elvis impersonators will swarm the streets March 13-14 for a festival of events that include beer keg races, flying bean bags, rock ‘n’ roll, a pie eating contest, Irish dancers and other strange and unique activities you won’t see anywhere else.
While the World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza has won thousands of fans in the past eight years, just in case there’s someone who hasn’t been, here’s what you need to know.
Yes, the Mansfield pickle parade is actually the only one in the world. There are dozens of St. Patrick’s Day parades, honoring Ireland’s favorite son, ranging from Dublin to New York to Chicago. And there’s even some pickle parades out there. But as far as we can tell, Mansfield is the only one to combine all the green goodness.
Free admission, free parking, free activities
It’s free! Well, most of it. First off, there’s no admission and free parking, so load up grandma and the kids and bring the neighbors, too. If you’re one of those athletic types, you will have to pay to run in the 10k, 5k or Kids K, but it’s one of the cheapest runs in town and you get a free shirt (if you register by March 7), a really big dill pickle and a medal. Kids can play all day in the Pickle Playground on the bounce houses, making arts and crafts and getting their faces painted – and Mom and Dad won’t have to shell out a dime. If you want to chow down at the food vendors or shop at the retail market or downtown stores, you’ll need to bring some money for that – or hit the ATM on Main Street.
There’s Pickle Queens. No really. So maybe they aren’t descended from any actual royalty and their tiaras are more plastic and paste than diamonds, but on Pickle Parade Day, they shine. These well-seasoned ladies (they have to be over age 40) wear thrift store green gowns, curly red wigs and as much bling as they can buy at Sam Moon’s and the discount store. Look for these rowdy broads on the final two floats of the parade.
There’s live music – and it’s good! Coffey Anderson, a finalist on Nashville Star, and the Cody Wayne Band will bring their own brand of country, plus there’s cover bands Shot of Benatar, Little Skynard and Run4Cover. Winding up the evening will be Josh Weathers, presented by The LOT. On the Community Stage, you can see singers, Irish dancers, magicians and clowns. And it’s all free!
Take the free shuttle
Parking. Avoid the drama and figure out where to park. With more than 40,000 people rolling into a downtown that was originally built for horses, parking spots are at a premium. Do NOT park in someone’s front yard or block their driveway. People don’t like it. There’s free parking at Legacy High School, 1263 N. Main St., and a free shuttle right to downtown.
Plan ahead. Bring a lawn chair, pick out your spot to watch the parade and park your chairs there. Then get some food, do some shopping, listen to some music, get your face painted and hang out with your friends. Then meet back at your chairs before the parade rolls at 1 p.m. Saturday.
There’s pickles, a lot of them. If you even show up at the Pickle Runs on Saturday morning, you’re going to get a big dill pickle. Vendors lining Main Street get creative with pickle snow cones, sweet and savory pickles. And then there’s the Pickle Dude, the 6-foot dancing pickle mascot that you pretty much have to see to believe. If you just can’t get enough, enter the pickle eating contest or pickle juice drinking contest in front of the main stage after the parade. Eat or drink your fill, and if you win, you get even more pickles.
There’s more. Get the Mansfield pickle parade schedule and all the details at pickleparade.org.