CLEVELAND – Hundreds of thousands of Irish and those who were just Irish for the day came to downtown Cleveland for the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade has been a long-time tradition that dates back 176 years.
“We’ve had sort of a rough winter and now it’s time to really sort of, cabin fever is over and come out and see people,” said Thomas Shannon, who was meeting family members from all over Northeast Ohio in the city for the festivities.
There were 10,500 people from 186 different groups marching in the parade down Superior Avenue. The bagpipers in kilts as well as the Irish stepdancers were big hits with the crowd.
Sheila Murphy Crawford was this year’s grand marshal. Crawford founded the Murphy Irish Arts Center in 1978. The Murphy Irish Dancers have marched and performed in the parade in Cleveland for 39 consecutive years with Crawford as their lead.
“Cleveland, you know, is such a special place for diversity and for honoring our ethnic heritage, that it’s been wonderful to be Irish here and contribute to the city as we have,” Crawford said.
Another St. Patrick’s Day tradition is naming the “Irish Mother of the Year.” Ireland-born Joan Hartnett Reali who has marched in many St. Patrick’s Day parades in Cleveland, won the honor for 2018.
“It’s the highlight of our life in this city that has Irish people. We love it. We honor it,” Reali said.
Cleveland Police reported a safe and problem-free parade.