Meet the Grand Marshal – David Lauderdale

David Lauderdale’s body of work is a journal of the Lowcountry’s history over the past 40 years.

Story by Frank Dunne Jr. + Photography by Arno Dimmling

Local since 1977 David Lauderdale is best know for his coverage of the environment, mental health, the Gullah culture, literacy and local history.

The Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been an Island tradition for almost four decades as this year it turns 36 years old. What’s unique about the parade when compared to other St. Paddy’s parades, particularly in bigger cities like Savannah or New York, is that it is not as much a celebration of the holiday or Irish traditions and heritage. Heck, you don’t even need to have Irish blood to be the Grand Marshal. Hilton Head’s parade is meant to be a celebration of the community; our friends, families and neighbors, the bonds we share as people, and our sense of place.

From that perspective, it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate choice for this year’s Grand Marshal than David Lauderdale of the The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. He has been an icon in Lowcountry media since 1977 when he joined the Packet’s newsroom. In the time since he has served as news editor, managing editor and editorial page editor. Today, as senior editor and columnist, he contributes editorials and columns about life in the Lowcountry.

Lauderdale also puts his work, well, to work teaching an adult Sunday school class at Hilton Head’s First Presbyterian Church called Lowcountry Lessons.

“It’s mostly storytelling,” he said. “About 30 minutes of it will be a Lowcountry story, maybe closely related to what I’ve been working on that week for the paper, and then I tie it in to Scripture.”

For his work, Lauderdale has amassed a trophy case full of journalism awards, far too many to list, but there is something more in his work that makes him an ideal choice for Grand Marshal. As an editorialist, Lauderdale is not limited to the who, what, where, when, why and how. He steps out of that box and writes stories through which the reader learns something about how the subject fits into the fabric of Lowcountry life and heritage. Something you don’t get from a news report.

Lauderdale’s body of work is a journal of Hilton Head Island’s and the Lowcountry’s history over the past 40 years; a written celebration of the community; our friends, families and neighbors, the bonds we share as people, and our sense of place. When you read one of his pieces, or attend one of his frequent speaking engagements, his love for his home is evident.

“It is a tremendous honor,” said Lauderdale of his Grand Marshal selection. “This is my home, it’s where I raised my children, and it’s where my life’s work is. I credit all of the people I’ve worked with at the Packet over the years: reporters, editors, photographers, everyone who helped me have this career. I represent them.”

“His gift to introduce kindness and heal with words has made him a much loved Island icon,” said Parade Committee co-chair Gabrielle Muething. “David is the voice of our community.”


Enter the parade 

What: The Hilton Head Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade

When: 3 p.m., Sunday, March 17

Where: Pope Avenue and Office Park Road

Details: To join the parade, enter online at HiltonHeadIreland.org. Entry fees are $400 for businesses and $200 for nonprofit organizations. Volunteers are needed to help in the staging area and along the parade route. Volunteer online at HiltonHeadIreland.org or contact Bill Harper at 843-616-3604. The parade will follow its usual route, beginning at the south end of Pope Avenue near Coligny Circle and marching north to Office Park Road – site of the reviewing stand – where it will make a left turn and proceed to its end in front of Park Plaza and The Courtyard Building.