St. Patrick's Day Parade held in chilly weather
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Just as it has since first staged in 1869, the Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade today featured, of course, the color green, smiling Irish eyes -- regardless of ethnicity -- and lots of fun (and maybe an alcoholic beverage or two) just but one thing missing was pleasant weather.
The temperature was a brisk 36 when the parade began at 10 a.m. at Liberty Avenue and 11th Street and rose only a degree by noon but at least predicted rain and possibility of snow never materialized during the celebration.
Even though the temperature today is expected to be 30 or so degrees colder than last year's edition and the crowd was smaller than 2012's estimate of 358,00, it still was large and enthusiastic given an iffy day in mid March.
Indeed, St. Patrick's Day parade-goers are a resilient, dedicated bunch. Heck, even a blizzard 20 years ago that eventually dropped more than two feet of snow couldn't stop several hundred people from marching in an abbreviated St. Patrick's Day Parade.
This year's edition of the Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade, the second largest in the country, featured 199 marching units and as many as 25,000 participants. It proceeded down Liberty to Grant Street and then to the Boulevard of the Allies where it turned right. After traversing all of the boulevard and passing the reviewing stand at Stanwix Street it dispersed at Commonwealth Place.
To accommodate the parade, Liberty Avenue was closed from 11th to 26th street at 7:30 a.m. and Grant Street from 11th to First Avenue, the Boulevard of the Allies from Grant to Commonwealth and Stanwix from Fort Pitt Boulevard to Third Avenue were closed at 9:30 a.m. All roads are expected to open by 2 p.m. when the parade is expected to end.
At 1:30 p.m., roads in and around Market Square will close to accommodate the "Irish Fair in the Square," a party there beginning at 2 p.m. with last call at 5:30 p.m. The party will include vendors, green beer and live music. All patrons wishing to purchase alcohol from one of nine outside vendors during the allotted hours will be required to provide identification at one four carding stations to receive a hand stamp and wristband.
Police and state Liquor Control Enforcement officers will be in Market Square enforcing law such as underage drinking and serving minors. No coolers, glass bottles or pets other than assistant animals will be permitted.
Police bureau spokeswoman Diane Richard said there will be roving DUI checkpoints and undercover officers throughout the city. Officers will also be targeting people with open containers of alcoholic beverages.
Ms. Richard also said that if anyone observes an intoxicated driver they are urged to call 911 with a description of the person and vehicle and direction of travel.
"Our message is simple: If you drink alcohol and drive impaired, you will be arrested," she said in a press release. "We encourage anyone planning to drink alcohol to drink responsibly and designate a sober driver.
Additionally, she said, "Disorderly behavior will not be tolerated and violators may be subject to citations and/or physical arrests.
"The City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and all supporting agencies want to ensure that those citizens coming out to enjoy the St. Patrick's Day family-friendly festivities are met with a safe and violence-free experience."
First Published March 16, 2013 8:37 am