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Spectators told to stop kissing soldiers at St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Soldiers marching while women kiss their cheeks. (YouTube)
March 09, 2018

Spectators slathering on red lipstick and smooching 3rd Infantry Division soldiers on the cheek is a time-honored tradition at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah, Ga. By the end of the parade, many a face is covered with lip prints. Now parade organizers and the military want to put a stop to it.

A parade organizer told television station WTOC that the kissing is a security issue.

“Really the worldwide situation, terrorism, you just don’t want people running out to active military. It’s a fun thing, but it puts them on edge and it could be a danger,” said Brian Counihan Sr., parade committee grand chairman, in an interview on the station.

An Army spokesman told WTOC that those watching the parade should respect the professionalism of the soldiers marching.

Spectators don’t have to retire that lipstick altogether. They can still kiss the cadets from the Benedictine Military School, Counihan said.

The 2018 parade will be held on March 17 and feature about 280 participating groups. The event’s history stretches back to the 1800s. The first public parade was in 1824, although there were a couple of private celebrations before that, according to the parade’s website. Today the parade is the second-largest in the nation, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

How did this kissing business begin?

“The kissing ritual started in the early 1900s, when Benedictine cadets marching in the parade were showered with smooches from St. Vincent girls,” according to the Savannah Morning News.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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