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The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade has been held downtown Hillsboro for four decades.

In 1979, Ruth Murphy had an idea.

The Hillsboro resident was looking for a way for small businesses to promote themselves in the then-small town of Hillsboro, population 27,000.

She settled on the idea of a parade, a family tradition still going strong 40 years later.

Hillsboro's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade returns to downtown on Saturday, March 16. While the city has grown exponentially in the last four decades, the parade continues to offer small-town charm for families, said organizer Kathy Murphy, Ruth Murphy's daughter.

This year will see the return of plenty of parade favorites, including the Scott Pipe Band, the Forest Grove bagpipe group will come dressed in full regalia. Other parade regulars, from monster trucks to local rodeo courts and the Forest Grove Dance Arts, will also be on hand.

Four decades on, Murphy said the parade is as popular today as ever.

"There are lots of wonderful entries," Murphy said. "It's a fun community time."

Murphy said she enjoys seeing the downtown come to life each March for the annual parade.

"The streets of Hillsboro belong to John Q. Public during parade days," she said. "I love the fact that we get to do it every year."

Murphy said the parade is about celebrating the community.

"There's no money to be made on a parade," Murphy said. "But this community, it centers you. It's like going to church, you're going back to your roots. This is our community, and this is who we are. This was started for small businesses as a way to present themselves, we've followed through ever since. You get yourself out in front of 10,000 people and meet your community."

Murphy, who lives in downtown, said she enjoys taking walks through the city center and seeing the community come together.

"We're just giddy," she said. "It still has that community feel to it. It's great to be able to hang onto that, and anything we can do to fan those flames, the better."

Murphy receives calls from people all over the Portland metro area, who ask about the Hillsboro parade.

"God forbid we didn't do it," Murphy said. "I think there'd be a mutiny."

Hillsboro's is the longest running St. Patrick's Day parade in the state. Murphy said she plans for the parade to continue for another 40 years.

"As long as I'm able, I'll keep it going on," she said. "My dream is to have a civic organization take the reins, lest something happen, where we're not around to promote it. There's a lot of intricacies to it. We'll always stay involved, but I dream an organization will say, 'Hey, why don't we be there in case you can't?'"

Murphy said the parade is also a way to stay connected with her parents, Ruth and Dan Murphy, who organized the parade for years.

"My sister Mary runs the business with me and every year, we say, 'Here you go, Mom,'" Murphy said. "This is a tribute to them."

The parade has become a staple for many families in Washington County, Murphy said.

"People come into the store and tell me that when they were young we'd come and wave in the parade. Now they take their kids," Murphy said. "We're part of everybody's history. This is one of those webs that ties a whole bunch of families and generations together."

The parade runs from 11 a.m. to noon, in downtown Hillsboro.

CHECK IT OUT

What: St. Patrick's Day Parade

Where: downtown Hillsboro; from Grant Street to Cornell Road to Main Street, to Hare Field.

When: 11 a.m., Saturday, March 16

More info: 503-640-1124, or murphysfurniture.net



By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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