St. Pat's parade marches to record temps, crowds

March 18, 2012 8:32:20 AM PDT
Saturday was the warmest St. Patrick's Day on record in Chicago, and the good weather meant big crowds for the annual parade down Columbus Drive.

"I like that everyone is wearing green and there's green dogs," said parade goer Lesi Rodriguez.

The warm weather brought hugh crowds to the 57th-annual event.

"The first time we came it was two years ago and it was hazy and raining," said Josh Barba.

Thousands watched the parade step off from Columbus and Balbo. For the first time, Ireland's prime minister helped lead the way along with Rahm Emanuel, his first St. Patrick's Day parade as mayor.

"We brought the sunshine and the heat with us here and it's a great privilege to be in Chicago," Prime Minister Enda Kenny said.

Missing from Chicago's largest Irish celebration was former Mayor Richard Daley. He attended the parade as mayor last year with his wife, but this year he marked the day at a private gathering with family and friends.

"I think Maggie's looking down upon me and gave us the weather for the Daley family and Chicago," Daley said. i always think of that at this point.)

And while just like in years past, the public, politicians and dignitaries began this St. Patrick's Day by attending mass at Old ST. Pat's, many kicked the day off with the traditional dyeing of the Chicago River green.

Dance troupes, and dozens of floats, including ABC7's, entertained those who lined the parade route.

It was all a thrill for first time parade-goer Bethany Jeffreys.

"The people, the parade, just everything," she said.