The streets and sidewalks of Uptown Charlotte were awash in varying shades of green Saturday, as thousands gathered for the 17th annual St. Patricks Day Parade and the Charlotte Goes Green Festival.
Levels of enthusiasm ranged from parade spectators in simple kelly green t-shirts bedecked with glittering green beads to festival-goers in neon green mullet wigs and footed one-piece green pajamas speckled in shamrocks.
According to event organizers, the mornings parade route was extended after a record 80,000 spectators came out in 2012, and to accommodate all the participant entries.
At 11 a.m., Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, led the parade as grand marshal. He waved to the crowd from the back of a dark green Corvette convertible.
The parade route started at Tryon and 9th Street, followed Tryon to 3rd Street which in past years was where the route ended before participants turned left on 3rd before ending on Caldwell Street.
K104.7s Brandon Chase and Kate Hall acted as parade emcees at the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets as more than 120 Irish-themed floats, performers and civic groups passed by during the next hour.
Judges also made notes and named winners in five categories: Charlotte Fire Department Pipes and Drums took first place for best musical group; Little Miss and Teen Miss N.C. won first for best float; Acrofitness won best dance group; The Federal Clan won first place for most enthusiastic and The Irish Society of Charlotte won first for most creative, as society members carried flags representing the 32 counties of Ireland, with the four provinces represented on their float.
The Federal Clan is an annual family reunion which Charlotte resident Mark Federal said has been held in conjunction with St. Patricks Day for the past nine years.
On Saturday, more than 250 Federal family members from as far away as Alaska and California gathered to spend time together and participate in the parade and festival, Federal said.
My mom and dad met in a shoe store (Uptown) in 1921. Mom is 96 and shes here today. We started this family reunion after my dad passed as a way to keep the family together, Federal said.
Im the youngest of nine (kids) and one of my cousins has 15 kids. Its grown every year.
Anabel Gonzales, of Mooresville, was at the parade with her husband and son, to watch her daughter in the parade with Acrofitness, the crowd-favorite that performed street tumbling, hula-hooping and other acrobatic feats as they walked down the street.
Gonzales said it was their first time to attend the parade, but they were pleased with the organization of events. Weve been impressed with all the information, which makes us feel good because its a pretty big parade, she said, noting they planned to stay after for the festival, which ran till 6:30 p.m.
Irish Society of Charlotte member Fintan Muldoon said crowd attendance was the best hes seen since he began emceeing the festival almost six years ago and partially credited Saturdays weather. Its really quite extraordinary.
Trenda: 704-358-5089 Twitter: @htrenda
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