Utica's St. Patrick's Day Parade largest ever
Irish immigrants celebrated the first Saint Patrick's Day parade in Utica back in 1834. The tradition was revived 34 years ago and has become a mainstay for Irish and non-Irish in the Mohawk Valley ever since. Our Andrew Sorensen has more.
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UTICA, N.Y.-- The Utica St. Patrick's Day Parade celebrated their 34th year, and their largest parade ever, with 120 groups marching.
As Grand Marshal of the Utica St. Patrick's Day Parade, Pat Costello gets to carry the Shillelagh for a whole year as symbol of respect.
"This is a very old Shillelagh that's been passed from Grand Marshal to Grand Marshal, and it's an esteemed group of people, so I'm honored to be carrying it," Costello said at the parade on Saturday.
Costello has watched members of the select group carry the ceremonial club down Genesee street every year for over 30 years.
This year's crowd was one of the biggest.
"Every year we get a bus full of people together from Rome, we come out here, we just have a great time, have a few drinks with a lot of friends," Spectator Anthony Verano said.
Some people are there for the heritage aspect. "It's my holiday, it's in my heart, it's in my blood," said Kathleen O'Murray.
Irish, not Irish, human, not human, extravagant float, tiny float, Saint Patrick's Day has a different meaning for everyone, but it's clear that everyone is Irish today.
People expressed their Irish-ness, in both traditional and non-traditional ways. For Diane Doyle it's all about tradition.
"When we were in kindergarten, my dad would give us a corsage every year to say, 'Hey, you're Irish! Enjoy yourself!'" she said.
She always has green on her mind.
"We will all make scarves, we make hats, we make stuff all year long to just do this."
As for our slightly less green Grand Marshal, he's happy with the tradition of keeping the Shillelagh for the next year.
But there are still some traditions the other Grand Marshals have yet to fill him in on.
"The secrets of the Shillelagh, I'll have it for a year or so, I'll know them all by the end of the year," he said.
Whether you're a roller skating leprechaun, or just out to celebrate the Irish, hopefully you got your fill of Saint Patrick's Day for the next year.
In case you didn't get enough Celtic culture on Saint Patrick's Day, the organization that puts on the Utica parade also holds the Great American Irish Festival at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds in July.