Popular local writer named St. Patrick's parade Grand Marshal

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David Lauderdale, center, receives the official Grand Marshal sash from Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day Parade committee co-chair Gabrielle Muthing as co-chair Alan Perry gives him the official pat on the back. COURTESY HHI ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE

In a ceremony Jan. 30, the much-respected local writer David Lauderdale was named Grand Marshal of the 36th annual Hilton Head Island St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Lauderdale received an official parade sash at the gathering at Reilley's Grill and Bar, attended by his family, past Grand Marshals, media and the parade committee.

Alan Perry, co-chair of the parade, noted that Lauderdale's selection for the annual honor "was a unanimous choice."

Lauderdale's wife, retired teacher Sybil Lauderdale, said her husband "has won everything, but he's most excited about this."

The Lauderdales have lived on the island all of their adult lives, raising their two children here. Though he is a native of North Carolina, the preacher's son considers the island his hometown.

A former school teacher, Lauderdale has been a newspaperman since he moved to the island 42 years ago. He is currently an award-winning senior editor and columnist at the Island Packet, where he has also served as news editor, managing editor and editorial page editor.

Lauderdale has won statewide acclaim and local admiration for his writing about the Lowcountry's people and its history, particularly the stories of the native Gullah, the island's early pioneers and her colorful characters.

Lauderdale also teaches a Sunday school class at First Presbyterian Church and is a sought-after speaker for local organizations.

In a media interview after the ceremony, Lauderdale, said this St. Patrick's Day Parade is special and unique. "It's open, it's public, there's nothing exclusive about it, it's not behind gates, it doesn't cost money, you don't have to be posh, you don't have to be any of the things they accuse us of being," he said. "You can just come out and enjoy it and it's fun."

Lauderdale said he is excited about leading the parade. "This is part of the small-town atmosphere that we all love - it's in my hometown, and I love it too," he said.

Created in 1983 by island restaurateur Tom Reilley, the event is the oldest St. Patrick's parade in the state. The parade annually attracts nearly 30,000 spectators and participants.

As an added bonus, this year's parade will be held on St. Patrick Day, March 17, stepping off at 3 p.m.

Entry in the parade is open to individuals, nonprofit organizations and other groups, schools, churches and businesses. Also, volunteers are being sought for assistance in the staging area.

For more information, to register and to volunteer, visit HiltonHeadIreland.org.

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