DUBLIN -- As a proud keeper of her Irish heritage, San Jose's Shannon Ryan McIlvain is a regular at St. Patrick's Day parades. Usually she and her family take in the San Francisco event. Saturday morning, she and her three older sons were in Dublin for its 30th annual homage to the patron saint of Ireland.
"Because of baseball schedules, we had to go to the earlier parade," she said, standing along Amador Plaza Road, where parade participants staged before turning left onto Dublin Boulevard. "We're loving it. It's very family oriented. Flag waving. Like a Norman Rockwell painting."
There were more than 80 entries for Saturday's parade, and to watch them march, dance, drive, ride and cartwheel past was to watch diverse colorful threads that intertwine to form the fabric of a community.
From the bed of a truck, members of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce tossed strands of green beads into the crowd, which stood three to four deep along Dublin Boulevard. Young members of a karate school struck dramatic poses, their hands slashing through the air. A BMW bearing a sign from Diablo Motors inched along, a price tag splashed across the front windshield, making it either a slick marketing tool or the slowest test drive ever.
The Wells Middle School band played "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Not far behind, Livermore Legion of Honor veterans rode in the back of a truck, one playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" on a xylophone.
"I've had every nut and bolt off at one time or another," he said. "Stock four-cylinder engine, 40 horsepower. I bought it when my kid was in high school, and he drove it to graduation."
The car reeks of TLC, with a black roof and red body. Candy apple red, perhaps?
"I don't know," Haywood said, affixing American flags to his front and rear bumpers. "It was supposed to be brown, but my wife got to the painter before I did."
For the red-haired Ryan McIlvain's sons, Connor, Kevin and Quinn, the best part of the parade were the trinkets tossed to them from parade entrants -- a cast which also included an IBEW local, Shriners, the Concord Blue Devils, Little Leaguers, people dressed as Star War characters, and at the very end, not far behind a drill team astride eight horses, a solid waste and recycling truck.
"I just like the sense of community," Ryan McIlvain said. "And being Irish, it's fun to see everyone come out and celebrate that heritage."
So next year, baseball schedules notwithstanding?
"We're going to come back here," she said, "and I'm going to bring my baby and husband."
But there was more to Dublin's St. Patrick's Day celebration than a parade. A festival was held at the city's Civic Center, with rides, food and vendor tents that snaked seemingly for miles. Among the vendors was kilt-clad Ethan Rose, who with his wife, Christine, authored the "Rowan of the Wood" fantasy series, and who identifies himself on his website as an "author, producer, carpenter, dreamer and feral hippie."
Hanging from Rose's kilt was a small crossbow he makes and sells.
"They shoot Nerf darts," he said. "I call them the perfect gift for someone else's kids."
Dublin's St. Patrick's Day festivities continue Sunday, with a 5K fun run and walk at 8:30 a.m., and the festival from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/garyscribe.
8:30 a.m.: Shamrock 5K Fun Run and Walk (race day registration available on site)
10 a.m.-5 p.m.: St. Patrick's Day Festival at Civic Center (free admission)