Last March, more than 70,000 spectators lined the streets of Cottleville to watch the 6th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade – along with the 7K Run for the Helmet that precedes it – is annually made possible by the Cottleville St. Patrick’s Run and Parade Foundation, a group of dedicated volunteers who are already preparing for the 2015 parade and run.
On Jan. 8, at 8 a.m. at Bemo’s Grill, the foundation will host its annual sponsorship breakfast meeting to inform and introduce the foundation’s mission to potential and existing sponsors. Completely volunteer-driven, the foundation relies on corporate sponsors and generous individuals to make the parade and run happen – and to support local charities.
“Although we have had our St. Patrick’s Day parade and run (for) six years, (2011) was the first year we raised enough money to be able to help defray all the cost for the event and have money left to be able to donate back to the local charities,” Mike Reiter, parade chairman, explained.
However, 2014 was a different story with the foundation finishing in the red.
“We added about $31,000 in rented barricades to keep everyone safe from start to finish along the 1.5 mile parade route,” Reiter said. “Our Run for the Helmet also was a bit down in runners attendance, due to the long cold winter we had.”
This year Reiter and new parade/run chair Leslie Pugh are seeking to change that and once again be able to use proceeds from the festive St. Charles tradition to fund local charities.
In years past, the foundation has has raised more than $25,000 for organizations such as Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service, BackStoppers Inc. and the Cottleville Firefighters Community Organization (CFCO).
“A few years back, we helped raise the money, along with CFCO and some local merchants, to install the Liberty Swing at Legacy Park,” Reiter said. “This swing gives persons in wheelchairs the ability to enjoy the sensation of a swing while seated in their wheelchair. The swing is manufactured in Australia, and total cost of the project was about $30,000. The swing is open every day . . . just stop by City Hall to obtain the key for the swing.
“For 2015, we have our sights set high to keep helping as many local charities as possible, including the McAuley Playground at the New Mercy Pediatric Center being built in Cottleville on Mid Rivers Mall Road. We also would like to help build the Amphitheater Stage in Legacy Park. All of our efforts are to help the charities and community we live in.”
But first the foundation needs the help of the community.
“It takes a great deal of effort and money to make all of this possible,” Reiter explained. “To be able to put on the events –and give back to the local charities – we need the help of business sponsorships.”
One of the founding members of the foundation, Reiter said the parade and run are more than just an Irish or St. Charles tradition.
“It (the parade and run) brings friends and families together for a cause or a need, but they’re together and enjoying every minute of it. We hear stories every year that make you come back the next year to do it all over again,” Reiter said.
Founded by Reiter and two of his Rosary High friends – Tom Smoot and Matt McDonough – the foundation is run by a board of directors appointed by Cottleville Mayor Jim Hennessey and Fire Chief Rob Wiley. However, the foundation is not associated with or funded by the city.
“That the parade and race are put on by the city is a common misconception,” Reiter said. “It’s all volunteer-driven.”
In addition to hosting the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Run for the Helmet, the foundation also hosts the Cottleville St. Pat’s Car Show in September and the Green Tie Gala. Since it has no paid staff, volunteers are always needed to plan and run those events, Reiter said.
To learn more, volunteers and potential sponsors can either attend the meeting on Jan. 8 or visit stpatparade.org.