BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) St. Patrick's Day weekend in Buffalo. A three day party. The Irish flag is flying over Buffalo City Hall. Corned beef and cabbage and Guiness is being served at local taverns and Jim Wannemacher is ready to serve as Grand Marshal for Sunday's big parade.
"I'm very excited," Wannemacher told WBEN Friday morning. "The sense of tradition. The original St Patrick's Day parade started in 1940. None of the history or heritage gets lost on me. I'm honored to be this year's grand marshal."
How did he become grand marshal?
"I work for New Era Cap and a number of years ago, when my company moved downtown, the parade committee came to us and asked if they could use our building during the parade. I said yes and helped them with several other things. I eventually became a volunteer with the United Irish American Association and I've been helping them set the parade up for the past ten years." Being on the committee, he said he was lucky to be picked this year to serve as Grand Marshal.
In addition to leading the parade, Wannemacher gets to select his Deputy Marshals. He has asked his wife Lynn, his three sons Tim, Charlie, and Patrick, Jim Ormond, Grace Wannemacher and Melanie Ford to join him in walking along Delaware Avenue.
If you're going to the parade, dress warm. It may be the last weekend of winter, but it will be windy and cold with temperatures in the low 30's.
How much attention is Wannemacher paying to the forecast? Not much. "I've lived in Buffalo my whole life. We know what it's like. As Buffalonians, we're ready for anything. It's like going to a Bills game."
Marching up Delaware Avenue, members of the UIAA will be dressed formally in suits and top coats, top hats and Wannemacher said he'll also have a walking stick, otherwise known as an Irish shillelagh.
The parade starts Sunday at 2pm at Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall and proceeds to North Street. It's 1.3 miles in length and Wannemacher said there is not a bad spot along the way. The parade draws tens of thousands of people each year.
According to the personal-finance site Wallethub, Buffalo is ranked 9th best city for St. Patrick's Day celebrations, among 200 U.S. cities.