Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival returns March 26 after COVID hiatusPublished on Monday, February 14, 2022By: Annie Oeth, firstname.lastname@example.orgHal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival is returning to downtown Jackson March 26 after a two-year hiatus, raising funds for Children’s of Mississippi while bringing their Irish-Mardi Gras blend back to the metro area.Ha's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival founder Malcolm White discusses 2022 plans at a news conference Feb. 8.“About now, we could all use a parade,” said Malcolm White, founder of Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival and owner of Hal & Mal’s, at a news conference Tuesday. “It’s been a rough two years, and we’ve had to adjust to a new way of life. We’re delighted to be back in 2022.”Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival was canceled March 11, 2020, less than two weeks before it was to have been held, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The risk of spreading the virus kept the parade off the calendar in 2021.“We’re beyond ready for this,” said Jill Conner Browne, author, boss Sweet Potato Queen, and a long-time supporter of Children’s of Mississippi. “We’ll be back bigger and better than ever after two years of sitting around.”The theme of the 2022 event is “Go Big & Come Home,” White said. “After these last two years, we wanted to pick a theme that represents both our community getting to come together again, as well as Jackson’s celebration of its bicentennial.”In this 2009 file photo taken at Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival, a city sweep volunteer gives Mardi Gras beads to a young Children's of Mississippi supporter.Grand marshal will be Alexander “Trace” Armstrong Alston III, who has marched in Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade with the Rude Men Crew for decades.“We’re happy to support Children’s of Mississippi while having fun,” Alston said.The main parade, which rolls at 1 p.m., starts at the corner of Court and State streets. The parade will be led with the city sweep, a band of volunteers who collect donations for the state’s only children’s hospital in exchange for Mardi Gras beads.New for 2022 will be a QR code for making cashless donations at the parade. Gifts can also be made via text.Hospodor“The support of Malcolm, Jill and everyone associated with Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival, including the parade goers, has helped Children’s of Mississippi for decades, and we are excited to get to celebrate with them again,” said Jen Hospodor, director of community development, annual giving and alumni engagement at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Children’s is the pediatric arm of UMMC that includes the children’s hospital as well as clinics around the state.Giesecke“Without the support of Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival and others around the state, Children’s of Mississippi would not have been able to grow,” said Children’s of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke, noting the addition of the Kathy & Joe Sanderson Tower in 2020 that more than doubled the square footage for pediatric care at UMMC.A van designed for patients who use ventilators and neonatal intensive care beds are among the items purchased with funds raised by the Sweet Potato Queens. The 6,477 chapters of Sweet Potato Queens hail from around the world, from Mississippi to Indonesia.The 2022 Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival includes traditional events ranging from children’s and pet parades Saturday morning to Hal’s Marching MALfunction and Second-Line Stomp Friday night. The After Party at Hal & Mal’s will include the Molly Ringwalds, Mustache the Band, the Frazier Band, the Southern Komfort Brass Band and The Collective featuring D.J. Cadillac, D.J. Uri and D.J. Tam.More information and After Party tickets will be available at halsstpaddysparade.com. To donate to Children’s of Mississippi, text “StPaddy” to 41444.