PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thousands lined both sides of Grant Street downtown, wearing green and ready for the sights and sounds of the 144th St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pittsburgh Saturday morning.
“It makes me think about all the generations of Irish people who came and helped to build this great city, this is a unique parade,” said Deputy Counsel General of Ireland Peter Ryan.
The parade features 23,000 participants – everything from Irish heritage groups, high school marching bands and the 2014 Miss Smiling Irish Eyes.
“It’s just a great day to be Irish, and it’s a great day to show your heritage,” said Ciara Crossey, Miss Smiling Irish Eyes.
This is day everyone is Irish, regardless of their ethnic heritage.
“My eastern European grandparents would be surprised, I think absolutely,” said Bishop David Zubik, of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese. “But it’s part of our country; it’s all part of our city.”
With an estimated crowd of more than 200,000, the parade is a great opportunity Gov. Tom Corbett.
“You walk down the parade; you get to see the people. Everybody can voice their opinion, and they do,” said Gov. Corbett. “This is a very positive parade.”
It’s also a great venue for the man who wants the governor’s job.
“I’m a native Pennsylvanian and I want Pennsylvania to be all it can be, that’s why I’m running for governor,” said Tom Wolf, a Democratic candidate for governor.
The parade also stirs patriotism; the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard came from the nation’s capital.
“So, we’ve got to look sharp, we’ve got to do everything that makes us represent the American people and American airman very well,” said Lt. Colonel Tim Thurston, of the U.S. Air Force.
Local heroes also got a warm welcome. Rochester native Lauryn Williams is the first American woman to win medals in the Summer and Winter Olympics.
She enjoyed greeting the crowds along the parade route.
“This is awesome; especially when they start chanting USA, it’s really cool,” said Williams.
And everyone in the crowd enjoyed the experience.
“This is a beautiful day, a beautiful town, and we’re having a beautiful time here,” said one parade-goer.