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Come get an eyeful and earful of all things Irish

Bands will lead the way for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, followed by a downtown festival. Later there will be Irish music and food at Rock Crusher Canyon.

Pipes and drums will sound out their melodious music Saturday, as the sixth annual St. Patrick's Day Parade rolls down Main Street, beginning at 11 a.m.

Three marching bands, honor guards, a grand marshal and invited guests will make up the parade, which should last about an hour, said Mike Colbert, head of the planning committee.

The Citrus High Hurricane Marching Band, along with the St. Andrews and the Sid Heros pipe and drums bands will march and perform in the parade.

Other marching units include the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and the Citrus High Air Force Junior ROTC drill team and the Young Marines honor guard.

Citrus County Supervisor of Elections Susan Gill will be the parade's grand marshal.

"She has a long Irish history and has been in all our parades," Colbert said.

Other invited dignitaries are U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman, state Rep. Nancy Argenziano and representatives from the Citrus County School Board and the Inverness City Council.

The parade route begins at Citrus High, rambles down Main Street and turns left at Pine Avenue, where it will proceed to the Courthouse Square. Once the parade is over, the downtown merchants will sponsor special activities, including an outdoor sale. The St. Andrews Pipe and Drums will play a few songs on the steps of the Old Courthouse.

Other St. Patrick's Day activities include a special musical performance and traditional Irish foods at Rock Crusher Canyon Garden Pavilion, 275 S Rock Crusher Road, Crystal River.

The Razz Ma Tazz band will perform many Irish folk songs, said bandleader Johnny Baier.

"We'll be playing the standard, sing-alongs like Wild Irish Rose and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," Baier said.

Joining Razz Ma Tazz will be Ivy Ford, a Citrus County resident and native of Glasgow, Scotland. Ford is a classically trained opera singer who won the title of the "Golden Voice of Great Britain" when she was just 16. She has toured the world, performing with top Irish bands. One of her most memorable experiences was singing a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II at the New Metropole Theatre in Glasgow.

"She lends authenticity to the program, because she's able to do songs that you don't hear everyday, but are quite beautiful, especially with her accent and singing voice," Baier said.

Admission to the Rock Crusher event is $15, which includes a buffet of corned beef and cabbage, Irish lamb stew, shepherd's pie, salads and desserts. Dinner served from 6 to 8 p.m. and entertainment is from 7 to 10 p.m. Call 795-1313.