See also this updated 2012 post - Walks for the Weekend: A Great Day for the Irish.
Prepare for an extra dose of green.
While New York's St. Patricks' Day Parade was shortened a few blocks this year, ending at 79th Street instead of the area north of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as has been the custom, it seemed to take longer than usual. Several marching bands and legions of proud Irish were still marching up Fifth Avenue at 5 p.m.
The weather on Thursday brought a hint of spring green, right on cue. It often feels like New York owns the seasons, with spring not allowed to officially commence until the sons and daughters of Ireland hit the streets of the city.
Watching the parade on Fifth Avenue near E. 62nd St., and later near its end at the intersection with E. 79th., afforded views of Central Park to the west and the handsome facades of Fifth Avenue buildings on the east side. Standing in front of the Knickerbocker Club, I glanced up at three well-dressed men and one sharply-dressed woman who were enjoying champagne while watching the parade on an outdoor terrace. At the same moment, a parade contingent bearing the banner "England Out of Ireland" marched by. It was a nice moment of class and politics, and the weather was lovely.
Many locals shouted out "Welcome to New York" to the groups that had traveled to participate in the parade from outside the city. Another particularly enjoyable vignette could be seen just above the French cultural embassy near E. 78th Street where five screaming teenage girls, decked out in green, stood on a raised wall while the occasional embassy staffer, each in a perfect suit, stepped out to watch the Irish marchers.
The sight of the parade was often less exciting than the sound of bagpipes bellowing out the songs of old Ireland.
When the last marching band cleared Fifth Avenue and the parade-goers started to file home or off to the pubs, the landscape of Central Park came into clearer view. There was young green grass on the sloping lawns of the park. On Fifth Avenue, all that remained was the long green line.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from March 17, 2011.