Daley's last St. Patrick's Day parade as mayor

March 12, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Thousands of people lined the route on Columbus Drive for a parade that's as much as tradition in Chicago as the mayor is himself.

Daley was greeted with warm welcome when he arrived for what was to be his last St. Patrick's Day parade as the city's chief executive on Saturday.

"It is very emotional when you think, 22 years as mayor attending all the various parades and celebrations of the city," Daley said.

With is wife Maggie riding along side him, the mayor served as the Grand Marshall of this year's festivities celebrating the Irish in all of us.

"We're going to miss him a lot. It was great to see him and Maggie," said parade-goer Marty McDonaldy.

While the mayor started his St. Patrick's Day as he does every year by attending mass at Old St. Pat's, Chicago's celebration began with the traditional dyeing of the Chicago river green.

"We love this parade. This is our tenth year here," said Cheree Tuscher.

Cold and rainy weather didn't dampen the 56th year of the downtwon event or stop Indiana residents Mary Moore and Loree McCloud from attending.

"The colder the better," said parade-goer Mary Moore.

Dance troupes, marching bands and dozens of floats, including ABC7's, entertained those who lined Columbus Drive.

"I like the drummers," said parade-goer Sarah Norris.

"This is the first time I've ever come here and I love it. I came here to celebrate the Irish," said Parade-goer Melissa Calypso.

Others also celebrated the Irish but some were still disappointed about the demise of the South Side's own St. Patrick's Day parade.

"It's sad. I think the people are happy it's not there anymore. There was a lot of chaos going on there," said parade-goer Margaret Heinrich.

But despite that and the end to an era signaled by Daley's retirement, most hope the annual parade will continue to grow.

Although some say they know it may be different, it will always be a part of the Windy City.

"My family's from Ireland, so I get to enjoy the time to celebrate the heritage. It's a great day," said parade-goer Jean Doherty.

Daley says he plans to continue to participate in the St. Patrick's Day parades long after he leaves office not only to represent his family, but his Irish roots.

If you missed seeing the parade in person, you can catch it on television Saturday night. It airs at 11:05 p.m. on ABC7.

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