Charles City St. Patrick’s Day Parade


By Thomas Nelson,

Residents from all over came out to celebrate the day after St. Patrick’s Day on the 24th St. Patrick’s Day parade in Charles City.

Led by Mayor James Erb, and music provided by Drouth Ducks, the parade started at City Tap and came down to Riverside Drive.

After getting to the river the parade turned and marched straight into Pub on the Cedar to begin the St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl.

The Drouthy Ducks are made of one bass drummer and bag pipe players or pipers.

During the parade the pipers played Scotland the Brave, Blue Bells of Scotland, Auld Land Syne, Murdo’s Wedding and Round Tree, Terry Cochran the pipe major for the band.

Cochrane has been playing the bag pipes for 20 years and has been coming to the Charles City St. Patrick’s Day parade for 15 years, he said.

The pipers were decked out in full regalia, kilts, berets and dark sweaters as they marched in the away from the setting sun.

The pipers went along with the parade playing, as marchers went around and handed out green beads and candy to Charles City residents.

Greg Fran, a retired police officer from Fairfield, was among the Drouthy Ducks and marched with them. He’s been playing 14 years, Fran said.

Playing bagpipes isn’t necessarily easy, in fact it’s fairly difficult, even for bag pipe veterans of the Drouthy Ducks, that have been playing for years.

“It’s not really natural,” Fran said. “It takes 36 psi to get all these things to work.”

Coordinating with the pipes and your arms to hold the pipes squeezing it is more difficult that it looks, Fran said.

“They’re never easy to play just because of the exertion that you have to have and then when you have a new reed, it’s hard all over again,” Cochran said. “It takes right at two years to really feel comfortable doing the tunes in a way you can be by yourself and do weddings, funerals and things.”

Bag pipes require their players to memorize everything, Cochran said.

The second youngest of the group Aaron Kinzey, a student at Monmouth College, started playing the bag pipes two and a half years ago during his senior year of high school.

Kinzey is originally from Charles City. This parade is his first time back since he was a young child, he said.

The Drouthy Ducks aren’t necessarily a professional group of pipers, but they do play parades. Drouthy is the Scottish word for thirsty, Cochran said.

The Ducks played along with the bar crawl after the parade, going from bar to bar playing as they entered each establishment and wowing each crowd as they came in through the door.

“We try to go to as many of the pubs as we can,” Cochran said. “We can only play so much, your lip wares out and then you’re done, we have to pace ourselves.”

The Ducks had good weather on Saturday, March 18 to go out, march and play.

“When the weather’s beautiful and scenic kids lining (up), and having a good time … that’s the best part for me,” Cochran said.