With temperatures climbing above 70 degrees and brilliant sunshine unfettered by clouds, the 2012 version of Pittsburgh's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade was a huge celebration that included shamrocks, sandals, shorts and spaghetti strap tops.
Perhaps it was the presence of Vice President Joe Biden -- who energetically walked and jogged the whole route, working the crowd the whole way -- or the weather, or the fact the parade was being held on St. Patrick's Day itself for the first time in five years, but the crowd was extremely large. On Grant Street, enthusiastic parade watchers completely filled blocked-off lanes, sidewalks and building entrances. There were no early reports of any major alcohol-related problems. In fact, many remarked at how organizers had achieved their goal of hosting a family-friendly event that everyone could enjoy.
That's not to say there wasn't just wearin' of the green but drinking it, too: green-clad, shoulder-to-shoulder patrons at Primanti Brothers in Market Square downed glasses of green beer. While Irish eyes and those of others were smiling, they didn't appear to be bloodshot -- yet.
Parade-goers and revelers were an eclectic mix -- from babes in arms to the elderly with canes, with a large mix of teens and college-age students. The large crowd's attire showed the diversity as well. Those wearing the standard "Kiss Me I'm Irish" T-shirts mingled with those wearing the green garb emblazoned with "Kiss Me I'm Italian" and "Kiss Me I'm Russian."
St. Patrick would approve. In fact, there he was at the end of the parade route near Stanwix Street, wearing green vestments, a miter and holding a staff as he shook hands with those who had marched.
Michael A. Fuoco: email@example.com