Martin City entrepreneur and parade founder’s grandson named 2019 Grand Marshal
By Jill Draper
Matt Moore was a youngster, maybe 8 years old, when his grandfather R.C. VanNoy buttonholed a few other business owners to hold Martin City’s first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1987. The story goes that the famed restaurateur was ribbed by customers who were leaving Jess and Jim’s to attend Kansas City’s downtown parade.
“You want a parade? I’ll give you a parade!” R.C. declared, before leading an impromptu assembly down the street. Later, the event grew into a wilder, home-grown celebration marked not only by candy for the kids, but kegs and Jell-O shots for the adults. Moore, through the eyes of a child, remembers it as chaotic, “so full that we couldn’t even step foot in it.”
Today, more than 30 years later, the parade is a well-organized family affair with some 60 participating groups, including Boy Scouts, Irish dancers, K.C. Wolf (the Chiefs’ mascot), the Kansas City Zoo, the Kansas City Police Department’s mounted patrol and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The Kansas City Mobile Veterans Center was also on hand to discuss their counseling and referral services.
Moore kicked off the procession at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 10 as grand marshal. Selected by the Martin City Business Community Association (“I thought they’d never ask,” he jokes), Moore was on the lookout for a St. Paddy’s Day suit. But he already planned his ride—a ’57 black Chrysler Imperial Crown convertible loaned by a friend. His wife and kids, ages 7, 6 and 2, joined him. The parade began at the State Line Point Shopping Center and proceeded east along 135th Street.
He’s glad it was warmer than 2010 when he was in the midst of renovating the space now occupied by his Martin City Brew Pub.
“It was a shell—no heat and no lights. I think we pulled electricity from across the street,” he recalls. He loaned the space out to an RC’s regular who claimed he made the world’s best tacos. “That guy was slinging tacos and people were pouring in because they thought we had heat, but it was frigid,” Moore says.
This year local businesses sold their own specials, including corn beef sliders at Moore’s two restaurants—the Brew Pub and the Pizza & Taproom.
In keeping with this year’s theme, “Be Inspired: Martin City’s Entrepreneurial Spirit,” judges for the parade were all Martin City business owners: Asya Evans of Laser Equipment, Brady Mora of MC Crossfit, Dr. Libby Robertson of Martin City Animal Hospital, and Brad Ziegler of KC Running Company.
Moore describes his grandfather, the original “grand marshal” of the parade, as having a larger than life personality. He had many sayings—not all of them fit for a community newspaper, Moore says. But one attribution seems right for the steady growth of the tight-knit Martin City business community and its biggest annual celebration.
Enthusiasm is everything!
For more parade photos and information, see martincity.org/business/st-patricks-parade.