A colorful 33-year-old Jackson tradition has a Hal of a new name.
Mal's St. Paddy's Parade is changing its name to Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival in memory of Hal White, brother of parade founder Malcolm White and half of team that opened the well-loved Jackson restaurant and venue Hal & Mal's.
The parade is set for March 19 in downtown Jackson. A supporter of Batson Children's Hospital for decades, the event raised more than $25,000 for the hospital in 2015, a year when a downpour threatened to dampen the fun.
Mal's St. Paddy's Parade's name is changing in memory of Hal White, brother of parade founder Malcolm White.
“I wanted to rename the parade to honor my brother,” White said. “The theme of the 2016 parade is 'Hal-lelu-y'all,' in keeping with remembering Hal.”
Hal White died after suffering an aneurysm in 2013 at 64.
“Hal absolutely loved the parade,” White said. “He and I started the O'Tux Society, and Hal didn't even live in Jackson at the time. He'd come march in the parade every year.”
Grand marshal of the parade this year is the Rev. Mike O'Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Canton who served more than 12 years at St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson.
“He's Irish,” White said, “and he was Hal's priest for years. He baptized Hal's granddaughter and said Hal's (funeral) mass.”
O'Brien remembers Hal White as being “a good, solid family man, a guy who was comfortable being in the background and a man who was a very good father and a good husband. He took a great interest in whatever his children were doing and was very close to them and to his wife, Ann, too.”
Being named as grand marshal was “a great surprise,” O'Brien said, “but I am from Ireland.”
Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children's of Mississippi, thanks sponsors and organizers of Hal's St. Paddy's Parade for their support of Batson Children's Hospital.
Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children's of Mississippi, the umbrella organization for Batson Children's Hospital and all pediatric care at UMMC, said the annual parade and festival has been a benefactor to the hospital for decades.
“This annual event, one of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the U.S., is a showcase for music and entertainment in Mississippi,” he said, “but it also generates thousands of dollars for the state's only children's hospital, showing that this is a festival with a mission. We thank all those who have contributed over the years and this year.”
The fun begins March 18 with the Marching MAL-Function and Second Line Stomp, then starts with a bang March 19 at the Fleet Feet Sports St. Paddy's 5K, a benefit for the Children's Heart Center at Batson Hospital for Children.
Registration is open and will continue online until March 16 at www.fleetfeetjackson.com. Coloring contest, age group awards, team competitions, team prizes for best costumes, and most money raised for the Children's Heart Center are part of the fun.
Following the parade, the Street Festival will begin, with music from Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Flow Tribe and Sweet Crude. Tickets for the parade's traditional after party will be available at ardenland.net.
A new website, halsstpaddysparade.com, will have information on tickets and attractions.