Members of the McArdle clan made their way down Sixth Avenue during the 24th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in March 2011. This year's parade begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday on the corner of Stone Avenue and Kennedy Street.


After eight years as festival chair, Robin McArdle-Landers is now president of the Tucson St. Patrick's Day Parade.

But her first year in the post will also be her last.

"This is my last hurrah," she says. But she's not fretting; this time next year, she expects to enjoy watching the parade with her new grandchild.

It is the 26th year of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Tucson, and Tucson Fire Chief Jim Critchley will head it up as grand marshal. Critchely, who has been with TFD since 1988, will be preceded by the Tucson Fire Pipes and Drums Corps, founded in 2007.

This year's theme is "The Gathering: All Things Irish," and begins at 11 a.m. Sunday on the corner of Stone Avenue and Kennedy Street downtown.

The route heads north on Stone Avenue, turns east on Ochoa Street, and after a brief jog south on Scott Avenue, turns east on 12th Street.

Parade chairperson Brandi Haga says about 70 participants are signed up, including the Mashed Potato Queens and the Tucson Marching Javelinas Kazoo Band.

The procession turns south on Sixth Avenue and ends at Armory Park, where the accompanying festival will be under way.

The festival starts at 10 a.m., but opening ceremonies take place at 12:15 p.m. This officially kicks off a day of music and dance on two stages celebrating Irish heritage. There will be food, and, of course, beer.

"We will have beer and festivities in abundance," says "beer chair" John Murphy (call him "Murph").

Visitors can feast on corned beef and cabbage, or enjoy a reprise of last year's Irish cookoff winner, lamb and Guinness Irish stew from The Parish gastropub.

A children's corner will also host a jumping castle, train and face painting.

For early birds, the "Green Isle Mile" offers a 5K or one-mile run starting from the corner of North Fourth Avenue and East Ninth Street. The 5K starts at 7:30 a.m. and the one-miler at 10:45 a.m. Check out for more information about those runs.