Former NFL player Connor Barth to serve as grand marshal of Wilmington St. Patrick’s Day Parade

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The 22nd Downtown Wilmington St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off this Saturday featuring bands, dancers, leprechauns and former NFL player Connor Barth as grand marshal.

Having played 10 seasons with the National Football League, Barth is no stranger to locals in the Cape Fear.

In addition to his notoriety, the parade committee picked Barth because of his deep Irish roots.

“I found out that I have some relatives from County Mayo and Donegal in Ireland,” Barth said. “I have a lot of Irish heritage and I actually got to go to Ireland this past fall, it was a lot of fun to learn about my family.”

When he was asked to serve as Grand Marshal, Barth said he considered it an honor.

“I’ve heard such great things, I know we’re one of the top ten parades in smaller cities in the U.S., so I was just super excited,” he said “It’s gonna be a lot of fun and I’m super pumped to be out there with the town of Wilmington.

Now in its 22nd year, the parade is slated to start at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

With many feeling cooped up for the last couple of years due to the pandemic, organizers expect a record crowd to come out and support the parade this year.

“It’s a pretty cool route, easy to walk, easy for spectators to watch,” Barth said. “Bring out a chair and have some fun, and it ends at Second and Market, so it should be a great day, hopefully great weather, and a lot of celebration.”

Barth credits the parade’s continued success to the countless volunteers who plan and organize the event throughout the year.

“Its just a fantastic event and I’m super excited to be the grand marshal,” he said. “We’ll have so much fun out there celebrating some great Irish heritage.”

Over the last several years, many in the Cape Fear have followed closely Barth’s career from his days at Hoggard High School, St. Mary’s School, UNC Chapel Hill as well as his professional football career.

“I’m actually making a comeback, I’m coming out of retirement, so I’ve been working hard with that training,” he said.

He’s also involved with a company in Wilmington called Blue Shark Vodka and doing some development in town with real-estate.

Barth says he’s “dabbling with a bunch of different things and staying busy.”

The 22nd Downtown Wilmington St. Patrick’s Day Parade will proceed down Front Street, past Market, left onto Dock, and left onto Second ending at Market. The parade review stage is near Front and Market Streets. There will also be a big festival after the parade ends which is free to attendees.

“There will be refreshments, music and it should be a lot of fun,” Barth said.

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