Let the Festivities Spring Forward

Alyssa Wiboon, Staff

As the winter season comes to a close and the spring season quickly approaches, Central Florida’s festival season is already in full bloom. Coming from a native resident of Orlando, spring festivals are something that you simply can’t miss! Winter Park, the city of arts and culture, decided to host its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 5 to celebrate the luck of the Irish. As a competitive Irish dancer and performer in this festive parade for over a decade, this festival never fails to put a smile on everyone’s faces, including mine. The streets of Downtown Winter Park are lined with celebrating families, decked out in green, just waiting to enjoy all of the different performances and sorts of entertainment. Typically, the parade starts with local firemen and police officers riding trucks and motorcycles, followed by all sorts of decorated floats and Irish bagpipers, and then dancers, baton twirlers, and cheerleaders in between. The parade fun lasts for a few hours until its performance time in the main pavilion. Musicians and Irish dancers, like me, show off their talent for a huge crowd to see. Personally, it’s my favorite part of the festival. The crowd gets me going, and I have so much fun. As underrated as St. Patrick’s Day is in America, Winter Park’s festival brings together its community in a fun way to appreciate Irish culture. If you missed out this year, I definitely recommend checking it out next year! But before that, here are many other must-see festivals happening this spring:

(Above) One of the most eye-catching elements of this
year’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival is the unique variations
of parade floats and decorated trucks. The floats are
different every year, and I’ve always enjoyed picking out
my favorites and comparing them with my family’s top
picks. It’s important to appreciate the time and effort
participants take in coming up with ideas and decorating
their floats and trucks. Photo by Alyssa Wiboon. (Photo by Alyssa Wiboon.)
(Above) After dancing in the parade, the Watters School
of Irish Dance make their way to Winter Park’s pavilion
for the main performance. By taking a break from the
competition side of Irish dance, St. Patrick’s Day shows
are a way for me to just have fun. With this being one
of the first shows of the season, I was excited to show
off new routines (center). Photo courtesy of Mrs. Thida
Tanpattana Wiboon. (Mrs. Thida Tanpattana Wiboon.)
(Above) The traditional bagpipe, a huge symbol of Irish culture, has been played for every single Winter Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Bagpipes are woodwind instruments with reed pipes that are sounded by the pressure of wind emitted from a bag squeezed by the player’s arm. The players typically
wear kilts, belt buckles, and other accessories of the traditional Irish bagpiper. There’s no St. Patrick’s Day without hearing the tunes of an Irish bagpipe! Photo by Alyssa Wiboon. (Photo by Alyssa Wiboon.)
(Above) As a way of being involved and representing the Winter Park community, local firemen and policemen ride in the parade along with other entertainers. They appeal to the crowd by tossing green beaded necklaces and waving out to bystanders. It’s hard to miss their flashing
lights and wailing sirens. Photo by Alyssa Wiboon. (Photo by Alyssa Wiboon.)
(Above) A festival is not complete without a huge crowd, so many people from all over Central Florida gather together in Winter Park just to witness this St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Dressed in wacky St. Patrick’s Day costumes
and four-leaf clover accessories, people of all ages are there to simply have fun. Photo by Alyssa Wiboon. (Photo by Alyssa Wiboon.)
(Above) To symbolize the celebration of different cultures, various flags of countries are paraded through-
out the streets of Winter Park. This just shows how
incredibly diverse and inclusive Central Florida is. That
is all that this festival is truly about—the celebration of
different cultures and arts. Photo by Alyssa Wiboon. (Photo by Alyssa Wiboon.)