Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade for ‘sale’ to a good owner

By on March 19, 2018

Bright sunshine greeted participants and spectators Sunday. (Russ Lay)

For Sale: One annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Nags Head, N.C.

The perfect “buyer” would own and operate a local business that would be the namesake of the event and willing to make a long-term commitment to ensure the parade’s continued existence.

A love of people and a good time a must. Available as early as March 2020.


Although the restaurant that long-sponsored the parade has closed its doors, the 29th annual Kelly’s St. Patricks Parade went off without a hitch this past Sunday.

The weather was about as perfect as it could be for a mid-March event on the Outer Banks.

Sunny skies, a bit of wind from the north, and a slight chill with temperatures in the high 40s greeted parade watchers who lined both sides of the Beach Road in Nags Head in large numbers.

By noon, the Food Lion parking lot at the Milepost 10.5 shopping center was completely full, with families hauling chairs and coolers. Even family pets made their way to the parade route and staked out prime positions near the grandstand, where longtime emcee Bob Muller described each unit in the parade.

But what of the future?


With the Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant and Tavern building and property sold to a grocery chain, will the local entrepreneur continue to organize and sponsor what has been billed as the longest St. Patrick’s parade along the Eastern Seaboard?

Kelly (left) with the late-Ernie Bridgers, South Nags Head White Trash Grand Poobah.

In an interview with the Voice, Mike Kelly, the parade organizer and former owner of Kelly’s, offered some hints concerning the future of the popular event.

“I’d really like to make it to thirty years, so I’m pretty sure we will do it one more time in 2019,” Kelly said. “After that, maybe you can say there’s a ‘parade for sale,’ so to speak.”


Kelly still owns Mako’s, where this year’s after-parade party took place, and Pamlico Jack’s restaurants, as well as his catering service.

But after next year, he’d like to see a new sponsor take the mantle from him and keep the tradition alive for future generations.

Nags Head Town Manager Cliff Ogburn told the Voice the town was very interested in keeping the parade as an annual event and he was hopeful a sponsor or sponsors would come forward fairly soon.

The parade, like many other Outer Banks traditions, traces its origins to the late 1980s and early 90s, when many local and out-of-town 30-somethings migrated here and started businesses that grew as the area experienced an explosion in the tourism trade.

Those young entrepreneurs planted the seeds that germinated into current-day icons and events such as the Outer Banks Marathon, the Outer Banks Community Foundation, the Community Care Clinic and both the First Flight and Kitty Hawk Rotary clubs.

And now it may be time for members of the next generation to ensure that there’s a 50th annual St. Patrick’s Parade in 2039.

The question is, are the “buyers” ready to make an offer?


  • Jon

    Um, “Those young entrepreneurs planted the seeds that germinated into current-day icons and events such as . . . the Outer Banks Community Foundation”?

    I don’t think any of these fellows were young in 1982 (although I believe that picture dates from a later year):

    Let’s give credit to the generation where it’s due.

    Great time at this year’s parade again though, thanks Mr. Kelly!

    Monday, Mar 19 @ 9:33 pm
  • Carter McKay

    Have the Outer Banks Tourism Bureau take ownership and change the name to “The Outer Banks St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 7:43 am
  • Patti Bossert

    We attended our first St. Patrick’s Day parade here in the Outer Banks and had a great time. Kudos to all involved.

    Tuesday, Mar 20 @ 9:36 am
  • Bud

    There is nothing to buy! Can go to Manteo and get a permit for a parade and call it what you wish.

    Thursday, Mar 22 @ 7:24 am
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