Hal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade to honor last Grand Marshal, Trace Alston

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 7:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Of the tens of thousands attending Hal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade Saturday, one important person will be missing.

Trace Alston, one of the original parade participants, died last year, but his krewe and organizers are making sure he won’t be forgotten as the celebration continues.

The pandemic bestowed the honor of longest running grand marshal to Trace Alston when Hal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade returned in 2022.

He was chosen before COVID-19 but reigned over the giant street festival when the spring event resumed.

The 62-year-old died in November, but he is remembered for being there at the start in 1983.

“He was in the very first parade ‚and then his floats just grew exponentially every year,” said Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne. “It was bigger and better every year, but he never missed.”

The retired mechanical engineer spent months building the floats that he and his Rude Men Krewe rode each year. Saturday, the Sweet Potato Queens will wear checkerboard from the Rude Men Krewe in his honor.

“The Rude Men have a pick up truck I believe they have covered in checkerboard contact paper,” added Browne. “And so there’s an angel on the front, a checkerboard angel with Trace’s picture. It’s so sweet, and they’re doing a second line.”

Four decades in, parade founder Malcolm White chose “Forty Years of All That Jazz” as this year’s theme.

“That’s a monumental celebration making it 40 years,” said the parade founder.

White began walking with friends near George Street grocery in rush hour. The parade is now one of Jackson’s single largest annual events.

“It’s rewarding that it continues you know,” said White. “I think back and I created zoo blues, and it’s no longer with us. I was involved in jubilee jam and it’s no longer with us, but St Paddy’s Day continues.”

This past weekend Run the Rainbow raised $60,000.00 for UMC’s Children’s Hospital. Events surrounding the parade benefit the state’s only children’s hospital.

The parade gets underway Saturday at 1 p.m.

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