NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City is awash in green and Irish pride as throngs celebrate at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Fifth Avenue.
More than 150,000 people are marching from 44th to 79th streets Friday. The marchers come from all walks of life, including military members, teachers and students, police and firefighters, politicians, plumbers and steamfitters.
Heavily armed officers are keeping a no-nonsense eye on security around the parade route as a pipe band played “God Bless America.”
The New York National Guard’s “Fighting 69th” also brought its mascots, Irish wolfhounds.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral displayed both the American and Irish flags. A special Mass was held there before the parade stepped off.
The route also passed Trump Tower, the home of President Donald Trump and his family.
Mayor Bill de Blasio waived to crowds, but would not speak with a CBS2 news crew — his team blocked reporters from any interaction.
Bust as CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, folks in the sea of green had plenty to say.
“I didn’t know I was Irish. I am six percent. This is my first time knowing, ‘hey, I’m part of this,” one man said.
This year’s parade is dedicated to New York’s Catholic charities and the New York State Police, both of which are 100 years old this year.
Marching in the parade, members of the FDNY honored EMT Yadira Arroyo, carrying a banner displaying her picture and name with the words “Rest in Peace.”
Arroyo was killed Thursday night in the Bronx after police said she was struck by her own ambulance that had just been stolen.
The parade is also honoring NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, who died last year at the age of 59.
In 1986, McDonald was shot while confronting a bicycle thief. He was paralyzed from the waist down, but publicly forgave his killer.
Parade officials praised him as man who practiced the same virtues and forgiveness as St. Patrick. Family members will march in the parade with a banner honoring his memory.
His son Connor, who also serves in the NYPD, says this was one of his father’s favorite days, WCBS 880s Sean Adams reported.
“He always believed he was given a miracle from the grace of God to keep going after he was left for dead in Central Park, so the most important thing in my dad’s life after my mother and I and our family and the job was God,” he said. “My dad understood the parade was not only to honor our heritage as Irish Americans, but also as Catholics.”
There was barely a trace of the city’s Tuesday snowstorm after sanitation crews worked to clear snow and ice from the parade route.
“The avenue has been cleared, the sidewalks are clear, the curbs are clear. It’s like it never snowed on Fifth Avenue,” Pat Smith, who works with the St. Patrick’s parade board, told 1010 WINS.
Limerick native Michael J. Dowling, President & CEO of Northwell Health, is serving as the Grand Marshal.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)