NEW YORK (AP) – New York City was awash in green and Irish pride Friday as throngs from both sides of the pond celebrated at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
The marchers came from all walks of life – military members, teachers and students, police and firefighters, politicians, plumbers and steamfitters.
“On a cold day, it warms your heart,” Richard Grogan, a marcher from Dublin and a member of Ireland’s national police service, said of the cheering crowd. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
John Brauer, a spectator from Rye, New York, got on a 5 a.m. train – both to get a good spot and because he was excited. “I don’t sleep when I know it’s St. Patrick’s Day,” he said.
Heavily armed officers kept a no-nonsense eye on security around the parade route as a pipe band played “God Bless America.”
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny marched with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He paused to greet Cardinal Timothy Dolan outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was adorned with the American and Irish flags; a special Mass was held there before the parade stepped off.
“Proud Irishman, proud Englishwoman,” said Tracy Gilmartin of Northampton, England, who was there with her husband, Joe. “Our kids have paid for us to come here today for their dad to be able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in New York. He’s always wanted to do it.”
The couple, who decorated a police barricade with an Irish banner, said their plane was full of travelers bound for the New York parade.
The parade route also passed Trump Tower, the home of President Donald Trump and his family.
The city’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade was on March 17, 1762. That was about 14 years before the signing of America’s Declaration of Independence, organizers note, and it was comprised of “a band of homesick, Irish ex-patriots and Irish military members serving with the British Army stationed in the colonies in New York.”
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