Patrick's Day Parade kicks off in NY

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For others though, this year marked the first time they were watching the small canal town's parade.

The air was crisp but the sun was shining as hundreds flocked to downtown Newton to celebrate Irish heritage and Irish-American culture. The parade itself starts at 11 a.m. and typically lasts for almost six hours, taking an estimated 150,000 marchers on a 1.4 mile route past Central Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Trump Tower.

Parade goer Coralie Draper said, "I love this parade". Originally a more solemn holy day for the nation's Catholics, it has expanded over the years into more of a celebration of all things Irish, including parades, parties and lavish meals, in Ireland as well as America.

Marching bands joined floats and various groups to honor the Irish patron saint in a tradition that was started in 1963. "But last year when we got the news of Mr. Rooney's passing, our former Parade Chairman Pat O'Brien made the suggestion that we dedicate this year's parade to the former ambassador, which received immediate and unanimous support from everyone involved with the parade". About 30 minutes later, a herd of Texas longhorn cattle, surrounded by four horsemen in front and three behind them, began the parade down Exchange Avenue.

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A bagpipe unit representing the New York State Police takes part in the St. Patrick's Day parade on Fifth Avenue Saturday, March 17, 2018, in New York. "The parade truly signifies the Irish investment over 250 years in the greater NY area", McCrosson said.

"We are going to bring the train in and ride that all the way", said Hope Feior.

Local businesses and community members walked in the parade handing out candy and waving at the crowd.