Sea of green in NYC as St. Patrick’s Day Parade returns
A sea of green descended on New York City on Thursday as the nation’s largest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade returned in full for the first time since COVID-19 shut it down two years ago.
Thousands braved the rain and lined 5th Avenue for the parade, while Irish bars quickly filled up across the city.
“This is the best thing that happened to us in two years,” said Mike Carty, the owner of Rosie O’Grady’s pub in the Theater District. “We need the business and this really kicked it off.”
The full-fledged return of the Irish tradition was the first major parade to be held in the Big Apple since the city reopened and dropped its major mask and vaccination rules.
When the pandemic unleashed in March 2020, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was among the first major NYC events to be canceled — marking the first time in the parade’s history that it was shut down.
“Psychologically, it means a lot,” Sean Lane, the chair of the parade’s organizing group, said of the parade’s return. “New York really needs this.” Revelers donned green and waved Irish flags as they spread out along the 35-block parade route between 44th and 79th streets.
Married couple Deirdre and Bill Constant, who live in Westchester, have been going to the parade together ever since meeting there three decades ago. After missing it for the last two years, the couple were thrilled to finally be back.
“It’s just one of the many pieces of back to normal … It was a long time coming, but it seems to be happening,” Bill told The Post.
“It’s great to be back in everything. It’s great to be able to go to a bar, it’s great to be in everything,” Deirdre added.
For 17-year-old Patrick Marzella, it was his first time back in the Big Apple since before the pandemic struck.
“It’s my first time in the city in three years, and this is a really awesome way to do it. St Patrick’s is a really awesome time. I’m loving it,” the Westchester County teen told The Post.
Others traveled from out-of-state solely for the famed St. Patrick’s Day experience.
Sarah Wright, who flew in from Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons, said not even the drizzly weather would have stopped them.
“It’s just so incredible to be out after so many years after it got cancelled and just feel the energy in the air and the New York spirit,” she said. “It’s a great place to be on a great day. It’s definitely worth it to be out here despite the weather.”
Amanda Clark, who had planned to travel from Iowa to NYC for the 2020 parade, told The Post she was ecstatic to finally make it happen this year.
“We are very excited to be here and celebrate, have some fun, lighten up a bit,” Clark said. “[Two years ago] everything was cancelled, so we couldn’t even come to New York. We’re just very excited to be outside.”
In Times Square, bars were buzzing again with customers after being hit hard throughout the pandemic.
“It’s good for everybody. Good for morale of the city. We’re just happy it’s back this year,” John Doherty, the owner of the Playright Irish Pub, said.
“It’s amazing to see everybody’s smiling. Laughing, drinking, eating … wearing green. Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s day.”
Forced to cancel in 2020 and 2021, the parade’s organizers had tried to keep the St. Patrick’s Day tradition going by quietly holding smaller processions around sunrise when the streets of Manhattan were empty.
This year, organizers had predicted hoards of people as the parade finally returned to normal.
The organizers were hopeful people would turn out, not just to commemorate the holiday, but to also honor the first responders who helped the Big Apple get through the pandemic.
At one point, the parade observed a moment of silence in dedication to the city’s COVID victims and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.