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HAMMOND—A sea of emerald greener than the Chicago river made it's way down Kennedy Avenue, hearkening a new annual tradition in Hammond.

On Saturday afternoon, the Hammond St. Patrick's Day Parade gathered scores of floats and leprechauns, big and small, who began their march at Orchard Drive and Kennedy Avenue and continued along Kennedy to 161st Street.

Beyond Ireland's mythical top-hat sporting creatures, other less traditional characters took the parade spotlight.

A hamburger, hot dog, ketchup bottle, fries, slice of bacon and bottle and can of Coke, accompanied by Irish flute music, was a hit among parade-goers.

Anastasia Bocanegra, co-owner of Schoop's Hamburgers in Hammond, said she had collected the plushy food and drink costumes over the years and now has a whole living Schoop's meal assembled. She said the group gets a lot of fun reactions and often people ask to take pictures with them. 

“It's always so much fun,” Bocanegra said. “Most of the time when we see the community often it's, 'What can I get you?' But in events like these it's fun to see the community outside of serving and see everyone.”

Celebrating the little known National Panda Day, the Illiana Derby Dames celebrated their beloved mascot, “Panda Monium.” The group of green-clad roller derby players skated around their mascot, who sported a big plushy panda head and team shirt.

“We're really involved with [Hessville Commerce and Community Creative],” Kym Lozano, whose Derby Dame name is Karma Kazi, said. “We love it. We like to get our name out in the local community.”

The Hessville Commerce and Community Creative, or HC3, hosted the first St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17, 2018, adding to other area events such as the Live at the Ville summer festival and Hessville Zombie Bar Crawl.

The parade stretched down a packed strip of local businesses on Kennedy Avenue, lined with children gripping bags of candy and festively-dressed families. Motorbikes and four-wheelers rumbled as they drove in circles in the street accompanied by someone in a T-Rex costume and Hess Elementary School toted a giant red Radio Flyer float.

Leo Pineda, of Hammond, said he recently moved to Hammond with his wife and children from Chicago.

“This is our first time coming to this parade,” Pineda said. “I like that they have this; It brings a family-centered feel and gives us something fun to bring the kids to that's in the neighborhood.”

For Janet Josway, of Hessville, and her family, the parade has become a beloved new tradition.

“We welcome it,” Josway said. “I've been a Hammond resident all of my live and lived in Hessville for 36 years. I love to see new events. It's keeping us going and has brought a new sense of community into Hessville.”

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Breaking News/Crime Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.