There’s a little Irish in everyone. At least, that’s what Lance LaPlace always says. LaPlace is one of the founders of Kilts & Kisses, a group that proudly describe itself as “almost Irish.”
“When people say they want to join but they are not Irish, we ask: ‘Do you like Jameson? Do you like Guinness? That’s good enough for us.’”
The marching club has been an integral part of the annual Wearin’ of the Green St. Patrick’s Day Parade festivities in recent years. They are often the first group to march down the streets and greet revelers, putting smiles on faces young and old.
A group of engineering majors at LSU began Kilts & Kisses a decade ago. After studying together and bonding over their college courses, the band of friends started a fun tradition of traveling to New Orleans for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Eventually, they decided they were tired of simply watching the fun—and having to travel to do so.
They turned their attention to the Baton Rouge parade and began a new ritual. The buds donned kilts and traditional Irish gear, passing out toys to children and flowers and beads to grown-ups. They performed dances throughout the parade, incorporating popular Irish tunes. The crowds seemed to love it then—and still do today.
“When people see us walking down in our gear, their first reaction is just like, ‘Dude! You look great,’” LaPlace says.
Since then, Kilts & Kisses has grown to more than 150 members. The organization is open to anyone looking to have a great time and build new connections. Members meet regularly throughout the year, learning dances for the parade and hosting small events like scotch tastings and nights out.
And while most probably know Kilts & Kisses for the plaid kilts they wear and the red roses they hand out during the St. Paddy’s parade, there’s more to the organization. It has built itself as a group centered on philanthropy and brotherhood, both enriching and giving back to the community year-round.
It hosts an annual golf tournament to raise money for a host of charities on the local and national level. The group is expanding its charity support and planning visits to nursing homes around the area to show off the group’s dance moves and interact with Baton Rouge’s senior community.
“I never thought this would turn into what it is today,” LaPlace says. “Honestly, I really just wanted to make something closer to home. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the maturity and direction it has gone in reaching out to help folks.” kiltsandkisses.net
This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.