NEW LONDON (NBC 26) — It's St. Patrick's Day, and much of northeast Wisconsin will be a sea of green this weekend as people celebrate Irish culture and fun, no matter if it's part of their heritage.
One of the biggest St. Patrick's Day celebrations has been taking place all week in New London or New Dublin.
Every year a group of community members dress up as leprechauns, and they change the community's name from New London to New Dublin during the week of St. Patrick's Day.
It's all part of the fun, but they say the best part is the parade on Saturday. New London community members and honorary leprechauns, Ryan Lanning and Connor Loughrin, have been taking part in the festivities for years.
"Since I was 7 years old I was helping out on the parade route, staging area and all that. This year I was asked to be the parade director, with a lot of help from the old parade director, it's going good."
Loughrin says people can expect to see a lot of family favorites this Saturday, including marching bands, pipe bands and wacky activities kids will enjoy.
"It's a huge honor to be able to do that. It is a lot of work, but we're ready to take it on," Loughrin said.
People like to decorate ahead of St. Patrick's Day throughout the entire year in downtown New London. It might not look like much now, but this community is expected to nearly triple in population for the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
"It brings 30,000 people to town. It's just a huge event. I would say it's pretty much the finale of the whole week. So, it's just a great family event too," Loughrin said.
"We're a small tight-knit community that enjoys this celebration. It's a big deal." Lanning said.
Both Lanning and Loughrin want to remind families there are activities for families to enjoy throughout the week, but they agree the parade is really the grand finale.
"It's exhilarating, because we work nearly year-round on our week of festivities. It's a lot of planning that goes into it, believe it or not. We take a break during the summer months, but this week is the week we wait for, and all that work we put into it and all those hours, this week it all comes to a pinnacle, and our final product is on the line. So, it's exciting," Lanning said.
The parade kicks off this Saturday at 1 p.m.It starts at Marly's Restaurant on South Pearl and goes down North Water Street and ends near the Dairy Queen.