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'Twas a grand old day; St. Patrick's Parade: 'It's just fun times'.

Byline: Ken Cleveland

WORCESTER a With cold and snow leading up to the Worcester County St. Patrick's Parade on Sunday, participants and spectators alike were ready for temperatures above freezing.

Sunday's 33rd parade featured sunshine mixed with clouds and a good spattering of big old snow flakes, giving the feeling of a ticker-tape parade, Worcester style, during the middle of the event.

The luck of the Irish won out overall. Though some complained of the chill, others walked dressed like it was spring, often in Irish themed clothing, carefully maneuvering along sidewalks and between snowbanks.

"It's nice for Worcester to get together and show how much they care about the city,'' Judy Walters of Worcester said, recalling when she watched the parade on Main Street

Ms. Walters and her daughter Eden Waters enjoyed the parade, a tradition the two have shared for 31 years, before they headed to a corned beef and cabbage meal planned by Judy's 90-year-old mother.

"It's just fun times,'' Stephanie Bernabei of Leicester said as she waited with a big group of friends who have come to the parade for years. Her husband and daughter also ran in the 5K road race that preceded the parade, while she and the rest of the family and friends cheered them on.

As might be expected, green was evident, from attire and accessories to painted shamrocks, many on faces and a few on vehicles such as postal trucks and even on horses.

While the two-mile march may have kept many participants warm, some spectators enjoyed their view of the parade with snacks. Tailgaters enjoyed their own warm hot dogs or food bought from vendors along the route. Others snacked on goodies, including candy tossed by some of the participants.

Deanna Rossetti of Spencer said she liked the military units the most. Her friend Kristen Cammuso of Rutland, sharing the back of a van as their setup kept munchies warm, said she liked the atmosphere.

"It's great to see the community come together,'' Ms Cammuso said.

That sentiment was echoed throughout the crowds, bundled up or dancing to keep warm.

"It doesn't matter what the weather is,'' George Dowren of Templeton said, noting he has attended during rain as well.

"You see people you don't see all year long,'' Chuck Grant of Worcester said about the social environment around the parade.

Jason Grant said his family started at a friend's for breakfast before the parade. His favorite part: watching the kids smile. And seeing old friends as well as family, he added.

"I'm happy to be outside,'' Jon Short of Worcester said. But as snow swirled during the parade, he added, "It wouldn't be right if it wasn't snowing.'' As the parade moved up Park Avenue, he stopped a vendor to buy an Irish balloon for his young son, attending his third parade, while his wife held another child seeing the parade for the first time, building on a tradition that many along the route share.

Priscilla Lopez of Worcester said she comes every year; this year was special since her daughter was marching in the Junior ROTC unit from South High School.

"I'm so proud,'' she said. Although she shivered a little as the sun hid behind clouds and snow fluttered down, with the parade passing by, Ms Lopez said simply, "It doesn't matter what the weather is.''

"The snow makes it a challenge,'' Rob Oliver of Worcester said as he and friends tailgated. He said he had been coming to the parade for 30 years. "It's fun for the kids.''

And adults, too, some spilling out of Irish bars as the parade approached and ducking back in for refueling.

Worcester's Finest kept a watchful eye, however, to be sure the parade route was free of open containers, too-rowdy celebrants or dangerous behavior.

The participants ranged from marching bands and bagpipers to floats and fire trucks, with Parade Grand Marshal Edward Madaus leading the way.

And the requisite politicians walked along, swerving for the occasional handshake as the two hour event coursed from Mill Street to Highland Street.
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Author:Cleveland, Ken
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 9, 2015
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