Parade, mountain oyster fry combine for fun Saturday

VIRGINIA CITY - The unlikely combination of a St. Patrick's Day parade and an opportunity to sample mountain oysters may be just the near-spring outing for the family Saturday.

And those with sharp eyes will be able to distinguish men and women on mustangs in the parade representing Women for Wild Horses Freedom - they will be wearing red hats.

The St. Patrick's Day parade, a few days before its traditional March 17 date, starts at 11 a.m. at the Fourth Ward School. Those marching should be in place there by 10:30 a.m. Everybody is welcome to take part, particularly those of Irish and Celtic descent. To participate, call Karen Woodmansee at 847-7500 days or 847-4768 nights. Or just show up at the school by 10:30 a.m.

The annual World Famous Mountain Oyster Fry follows on the hooves of the parade. For those not familiar with the term mountain oysters, sheep testicles are the "oysters" and such seasonings as flour, cornmeal, red wine, salt and pepper, garlic and hot sauce are involved. Bull or turkey testicles may also be used, depending on supplies, not to mention taste.

The mountain oysters will be served from 13 booths at 50 cents a taste at the Bucket of Blood parking lot at C and Union streets starting at noon.

This year's grand marshal will be retired Comstock educator and writer Hugh Gallagher, after whom Virginia City's elementary school is named.

Gallagher, 83, is the retired superintendent for the Storey County School District, a position he held for 24 years.

He was born and raised on the Comstock, attended and later taught in Storey County. He has been married for 60 years to Lola, and they raised three children in Virginia City, two of whom became educators.

Gallagher is a son of the Comstock, with both his father and his grandfather having worked in Virginia City and Gold Hill mines. His grandfather was killed in a shaft accident at the Yellowjacket Mine in Gold Hill in 1880.

"I was grand marshal 10 or 15 years ago," said Gallagher from his home in Virginia City. "I'll be dressed all in green with an Irish shillelagh."

As a veteran of the parade, Gallagher has sampled mountain oysters. "Very good - sort of a mixture of liver and chicken." He said he'll be tasting them again Saturday.

Expected to participate in the parade are the Black Bear Pipe Band of South Lake Tahoe; a group of leprechauns from Fresno, Calif.; the Scottish American Military Society; students from the Blanchett School of Irish Dance; the Virginia City Middle School band; the Virginia City Yacht Club's decorated boat; World Champion Outhouse Racers; The Nevada Camel Co. (weather permitting); John Benneth as Mark Twain and more.

"I invited all the horse people interested in protecting the Nevada mustangs," said Woodmansee of the Virginia City Convention and Tourist Bureau. "Most were already committed but some may show up."

The Women for World Horses Freedom seeks to promote the heritage of wild American horses of Nevada, including adoption and prevention of slaughter. The women will distribute brochures among onlookers during the parade and after. Call 241-0406 for more information about the group.


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