WINDERMERE It’s not every day you see a leprechaun and bagpiper in downtown Windermere — unless, of course, it’s St. Patrick’s Day.
The town’s first annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration drew hundreds of residents, most dressed up in green or gold, to enjoy the Irish holiday while supporting the Windermere Police Foundation.
Longtime resident Dickie Lockman showed up in full leprechaun garb, complete with a pot full of chocolate gold coins. Bagpiper Tim Nazzaro played classic Irish tunes as kids shrieked with laughter while dunking adults in the dunk tank. Residents set up blankets and lawn chairs around Town Hall as the Down Brothers rocked out.
And while people chatted, laughed and roamed around, Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden couldn’t help but take it all in.
“It’s really neat — when you put on an event you’re never really sure if there’ll be five or 500 or 5,000 that are going to show up, so it’s awesome to see it (like this) right now,” Ogden said. “And it’s exactly what I was hoping for, to be honest. Watching the kids play and doing bounce houses, watching families sit around enjoying themselves and listening to good music…this is really what the foundation was created for, to engage the community and give back to them and have the opportunity for them to sit down and talk to our officers too.”
Aside from the festivities, though, the community honored the memory of Windermere Police Officer Robbie German, who was killed in the line of duty on March 22, 2014. Until this year the Windermere Police Foundation held an annual softball tournament in German’s memory, but WPD staff decided to start a community event this year instead.
“We knew St. Patrick’s Day was around this time period and this year it just happened to fall on a Saturday anyway,” Ogden said. “We just immediately thought, why not combine the two? This really brings the community back into Windermere. …This is what we really wanted — a community event where everybody can come relax, engage with police officers and do fun things that are around here.”
Aside from it being a fun community event, all proceeds raised will go straight to the Windermere Police Foundation, which was established four years ago to support, encourage and benefit citizens served by WPD. Since it was created, the foundation has raised $130,000 and given back $80,000.
Later in the evening those in attendance got to hear from Tim German, Robbie’s father, who saluted his son as community members raised their glasses in a toast to the fallen officer.
“When I envisioned the foundation and doing community events, this is really what I envisioned,” Ogden said. “It’s pretty cool to see it come to fruition. We’re just honored to honor the German family and Robbie and be here to do this. The community has been a great supporter of ours.”