Thousands of people stood in uptown Charlotte on Saturday morning wearing green T-shirts and green pants, green hats and green necklaces, even green flip-flops – vivid Irish touches for the 18th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The sound of bagpipes mingled with the cheers of spectators as floats and bands passed by on Tryon and Third streets, ending at Caldwell Streets.
The parade, one of Charlotte’s largest, started at 11 a.m. while festivities cranked up an hour earlier at the Charlotte Goes Green Festival on South Tryon. Irish beer flowed freely at the event, which also featured Irish music, dancers, bagpipes and other activities. The parade is organized by the nonprofit Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade Foundation.
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City sidewalks were packed.
Parade-watcher Brian Jeffreys came out to honor his family roots in Ireland and Scotland.
He wore a kilt and several tattoos, including the Irish flag, a shamrock and Celtic cross. His hair had a splash of green.
“I’m proud of my heritage,” said Jeffreys, 39, of Matthews. “This is all about family tradition.”
Michelle Williams, 30, of Charlotte brought her 10-year-old daughter and two goddaughters, both 6, to the parade because “I want to expose them to a different culture and also to have a good time.”
They planned to visit the festival, see Irish dancers and listen to Irish music.
“The weather’s perfect,” Williams said.
Sean and Shelly Quinn of Denver leaned against a building on Tryon Street, the same spot where they’ve been watching the St. Patrick’s parade for 15 years. They like the location because it’s sunny.
With them was Daisy, a 7-year-old golden retriever with a green bandana tied around its neck.
As children stopped to pet the dog, Shelly Quinn described what she and her husband planned for the rest of the day: taking in another Irish event in Cornelius that afternoon and welcoming friends at their home that evening for corned beef and cabbage.
All these events were building up to the big one in two months.
“We’re going to Ireland,” Shelly Quinn said. “It’s our dream trip. We’re going to see where my grandfather lived, and we’re so excited.”