Irish-Italian Festival's 2011 "Royalty" is announced

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - The royalty for this year's upcoming Irish-Italian Festival Parade were announced Friday at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Hattiesburg.

For several years, the annual Hattiesburg parade has featured a King and "Colleen" meaning Irish girl or lady, and a Grand Marshal. For 2011, the festival is taking place on March 19th with the parade kicking off at 10:30 AM that morning.

Father Tommy Conway, the Pastor at St. Thomas announced the Colleen for 2011 is Catholic nun, Sister Carmelita Stinn. Retired Major General and current USM athletic official, Jeff Hammond, will serve as King while Forrest County's Sheriff Billy McGee will get the parade going as Grand Marshal.

According to Stinn, "It's going to be wonderful, I think it's bigger than ever."

The parade features lots of music and plenty of beads and other goodies are thrown to the crowd from a variety of themed floats. The parade route travels down fourth street in front of the church and the University of Southern Mississippi.

"From what I've heard in the past they really have a good time here. I was surprised to learn that I get to throw cabbage and potatoes and I hope some of my enemies are here so I can have some fun with that," said a joking McGee.

The Irish-Italian Festival is held at St. Thomas Catholic Church on the evening of March 19th starting at five PM.

"This is the reason I served 32 years in the service, in the army to ensure that little town America could come together and enjoy life and do things like this," said Hammond.

A Celtic Mass at St. Thomas at four PM jump starts the annual festivities, which are now celebrating ten years in Hattiesburg.

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