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Friday, February 3, 2023

St. Bernard Irish, Italian, Islenos Parade Rolled Last Saturday

Robby and Susie Showalter served as this year’s King and Queen.

Photo Courtesy of Chad O’Neil

The 19th annual St. Bernard Irish Italian Islenos Community Parade hit the streets of Chalmette, on Saturday, April 2, 2022. The marching club began at 11 a.m. followed by 52 floats, 40+ marching groups and units including dance groups, horse groups, motorcycle units, bands, and much more starting at Noon. The floats tossed over 500,000 pounds of produce including cabbage, potatoes, onions, carrots, bananas, oranges, lemons, pineapples and more. The parade theme for 2022 was “Celebrate the Olympics” and thousands of t-shirts, and other merchandise was tossed with the parade themed logo.

The parade started at the St. Bernard Civic Center/Government Complex grounds, traveled West to Dr. Meraux Blvd, made a U-turn and proceeded East to Ventura Drive where it U-turned one final time and proceed back West to the starting point at the St. Bernard Civic Center/ Government Complex grounds. The route is approximately 5.5 miles long.

The 2022 royalty were King Robert “Robby” Showalter and Queen, Susie Showalter, who reigned over the parade.

Robby and Susie Showalter are life-long residents of St. Bernard Parish currently residing in Meraux, La.  They have been married for 45 years and are the parents of two children, Brad Showalter (Annie) and Melissa Jurisich (Nick), both graduates of Loyola University in New Orleans and very proud grandparents to 10-year-old Olivia Jurisich, 9-year-old Sydney Jurisich, 2-year-old Blaise Jurisich and 2-year-old Benjamin Showalter. 

Susan is the owner of Stitches Ink and Boutique in Meraux specializing in embroidery and screen-printing services. She is a life-long parishioner of Our Lady of Prompt Succor church in Chalmette serving on various committees and boards, a 22-year member of the Kiwanis Club of St. Bernard serving on the board for eight years, chairperson of the Coats for Kids Program for 17 years and active in the Terrific Kids and Reading Programs of the Kiwanis Club of St. Bernard. She received “Kiwanian of the Year” honors and the “Life Member” award as well as the “Kiwanis Centennial Award” in 2015 and the Kiwanis “Hixson” Award in 2020. Susie is active in the spiritual organization, Driven Youth Organization, educating students on the importance of dealing with issues facing our youth through Jesus Christ. She has created two endowments that benefit charities and scholarships in St. Bernard Parish. The Susie and Robby Showalter Family Charity Endowment Fund and the Merlyn and Rosemary Sentilles Nunez College Scholarship Fund, an endowment in honor of her parents.

Robby graduated from the University of New Orleans in 1977 with a B.S. degree in accounting. He has spent 43 years as an accounting manager and was an executive officer of Boasso Global for 30 years and has recently retired to focus full time on community needs. He is a 31-year active member of the Kiwanis Club of St. Bernard serving as treasurer for 22 years, Vice-President in 2000 and was President of the club in 2001. He was elected as the Kiwanis LaMissTenn District 4A Lt. Governor in 2004 and named “Kiwanian of the Year” in 1997 and 2006. He was awarded the Kiwanis “Hixson” award in 2003, the coveted Kiwanis “Tablet of Honor” award in 2006, was awarded the Kiwanis Club’s “Life Member” in 2004 and was awarded the “Distinguished Kiwanian” by Kiwanis International in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2015.  Robby was awarded the 2020-2021 “Layperson of the Year” award by the Kiwanis District. He was awarded the BPW’s “Man of the Year” award for the year 2011-2012. He was also awarded the 2020 Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year” award. He is a charter member of The Spirit of St. Bernard Foundation and has served as a board member for 26 years and currently holds the position as Treasurer. The Foundation was created in 1997 and has grown to close to $3 million in endowment assets. He is a 63-year member of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church and is a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus, Rummel Council 5747 and was awarded the Knights of Columbus “Man of the Year” in 2012.  

Furthermore, he currently serves on the OLPS finance committee and is also a charter member and co-organizer of the Louisiana Crawfish Fest Foundation serving as its first President. He was co-organizer of the St. Bernard Irish, Italian, Islenos Community Parade serving as Treasurer for 13 years, and he is one of the organizers, charter member and the past Treasurer for the Knights of Nemesis Social Club and Parade which has just celebrated 16 years of parading in St. Bernard Parish and is the only Mardi Gras parade in St. Bernard Parish.  

He was a 15-year member of the Economic Development Commission of St. Bernard Parish. Robby is currently serving as a board member of the Nunez Community College Foundation and serves on its finance committee as its Chairman and is a charter member and past president of the St. Bernard Parish Lions Club.   

His community service volunteer work extends to the St. Bernard Advisory Council of United Way for six years, St. Bernard Citizens Recovery, St. Bernard Parish’s appointment review board for six years and has founded and chaired the Always Home Community Dance.   

He served 15 years on the fund-raising committee for the Archbishop’s Community Appeal in St. Bernard and served as the 2004 fund raising chairman for the St. Bernard Boy Scouts of America.   He was an eight-year board member of the St. Bernard Parish Government Personnel System.  He served on the board of the Versailles Park Booster Club for 6 years and has coached little league for 12 years. He served on the Archbishop Hannan High Schools athletic task force, was captain of the parents annual giving committee and a committee member of the Hannan golf tournament.  

He is currently serving on the Lynn Oaks School board and on the Board of St. Bernard Christian Academy, which is currently building a new campus in Meraux. Robby is co-organizer of the Driven Youth Organization serving as its first President, organized SOS in July 2021 that advocates for the rights and concerns of the citizens of St. Bernard Parish, and is currently serving on the St. Bernard Parish Charter Review Committee.

Float # 2 featured the Parade Princesses. Here is the list of Princesses in alphabetical order — Chassis Adams, Casie Arnona, Morgan Cimino, Emily Collins, Grace Gai, Lily Garnard, Katie Hambrice, Kelsey Hambrice, Erica Lambert, Caitlyn Landry, Megan Lasha, Tiffany Lasha, Isabella Meyer, Mackenzie Thoulion, and Adreyona Wallace.

The 52 Blaine Kern floats featured approximately 1,700 riders and carried produce provided by B&G Fresh Market, 501 W. Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette. Other than produce, shirts, and other merchandise, the riders tossed other food items, beads and specialty produce such as mini watermelons, kiwi, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, cantaloupes.

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