The wearin' o' the green
Kellie Milligan, 10, and her brother, Max Milligan, 5, both of Shaler, watch the St. Patrick's Day parade on Grant Street, Downtown, Saturday.
A coalition opposed to Marcellus Shale gas drilling, including The Pittsburgh Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Lincoln Place Action, Marcellus Protest, Peters Township Marcellus Shale Awareness Group and the Sierra Student Coalition, marches in the St. Patrick's day Parade, Downtown, Saturday.
Warren Wright of Point Breeze plays his trombone on Grant Street as the St. Patrick's Day parade goes by. Behind him are, from right: Barbara Cooper of Greenville and her son Brandon Cooper of Bellevue, with his daughter Kristen Cooper, 1, on his shoulders.
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The St. Patrick's Day parade was a three-hour spectacle that included a fake bishop, real nuns, politicians, protesters and countless bagpipers and step dancers.
Grant Street and the Boulevard of the Allies were rivers of green on Saturday, from clothing to dyed hair and even painted baldpates.
Penny Williams, 43, watched through shamrock-shaped sunglasses, adorned in a green hat of fake fur and wearing strings of shamrock beads and a Celtic cross over her "Kiss my shamrocks" T-shirt. She comes every year with her friend, Janet Frano, 58, of Cranberry, who is actually the more Irish of the two.
"We start with breakfast and make a day of it," she said.
The event transcends ethnicity. Black spectators wore green beads. A young white man in a green sequined hat blasted an African vuvuzela.
Even canine marchers ranged from the obvious Irish setters and wolfhounds to rescue societies for great Danes and Bassett hounds. The most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil, slept soundly in a Plexiglass cage in front of his tour bus.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians, who sponsor the parade, collected donations for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.
Almost every local politician marched. An Abraham Lincoln impersonator, marching between the Pittsburgh Firefighters and a group of Civil War re-enactors representing the Irish Brigade, was one of the few Republicans.
If politicians were courting votes, other marchers were courting politicians. The Fraternal Order of Police handed out papers with a list of grievances and phone numbers for the mayor and city council members.
"Very few people refused to accept the flier, and they didn't throw them on the ground," said Fraternal Order of Police president Dan O'Hara. "They were reading them and passing them around in the crowd."
Several environmental groups marched together against Marcellus Shale drilling. They had drummers, marchers dressed as drill rigs and an enormous green fabric snake, carried Chinese dragon style on poles, labeled "Shell" and "Range Resources." Their leaflet was headlined, "Fracking WILL Poison Your Water!!"
The St. Patrick division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians had a St. Patrick impersonator, garbed as a bishop, who cheerfully posed with families along the route. But nuns in the parade were real, though less traditionally dressed. Judging by cheers and calls of "Dance! Dance!" from the crowd, Irish step dancers were the most popular acts.
Bob and Angela Quinn of Shaler attended with their four children. Daughter Kennedy, 7, marched with the Bell School of Irish Dance, of which her sister Paige, 15, is a veteran and Hilary, 5, can't wait to start next year.
"I enjoy the overall atmosphere. Everyone is in a good, festive mood and donning green. You get back to your Irish roots for one day," he said.
Police described the event as "peaceful and orderly," with one arrest and four disorderly conduct citations.
First Published March 13, 2011 12:00 am