In a few weeks, Kevin Conboy will be able to say he has marched in the Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade for 50 of his 51 years.
"Since I could walk, I've never missed it," he said.
But this is the first year he'll have the T-shirt to prove it.
This morning, Mr. Conboy, merchandising chair for the Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Parade committee, was standing inside All Pro Embroidery and Screenprinting in Baldwin, where about 3,000 of the inaugural Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day shirts have been printed.
People have been requesting official parade T-shirts for years, Mr. Conboy said, but this is the first year the committee for the parade, which dates back to the 1800s, decided to make them.
They are, officially, "Irish green," he said, and on the front of the shirts is a design that includes images of past parade participants such as Irish dancers, Civil War marchers and fire trucks.
"We looked through thousands of photos that we have on our website, back in different years of the parade," Mr. Conboy said.
He couldn't give a figure for the cost of the shirts, since they will be sold by retailers throughout the region who can set their own price, such as Yinzers in the Strip District and S&S Candy & Cigar Company on the South Side. Shirts also will be sold in Market Square on the day of the parade, which starts Downtown at 10 a.m. March 16.
Some of the proceeds will go to the nonprofit Irish Society for Education & Charity Inc., he said.
The remainder will go toward the costs of the parade, which organizers say is the second-largest in the country and which includes about 23,000 participants and as many as 350,000 spectators, resulting in a parade that costs about $60,000, Mr. Conboy said.
The parade committee plans to make the shirt an annual tradition, with a different design each year, said Tim O'Brien, the public relations chair for the parade committee.
"The T-shirt is just one of those things that we think add to the experience," he said.