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WNY Gears Up for St. Patrick's Day Parades



Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - For some Western New Yorkers, this is the best weekend of the year.

"I'm always excited," said WGRZ-TV Meteorologist Kevin O'Connell, "There's 363 days that just kind of lead up to these two."

Just days after a blizzard, many are getting ready to deck themselves out in green, and stand outside to join in on the fun of St. Patrick's Day.

"I don't really remember parades based on weather, believe it or not," O'Connell said.

"I remember walking with my little boy Kevin for the very first time. You meet some great people and there are people on that parade route that I only get to see once a year."
 
PARADE DAY AccuWeather Forecast

Saturday: Mostly Cloudy,& Breezy, and colder with a rain or snow shower in spots. High 46 /Low 32 

Sunday: Colder with intervals of clouds and sunshine, High 23
 
SATURDAY.....
In The  Valley & Old First Ward Neighborhood

South Park Ave.  Smith St., Elk St., Hamburg St. &   O’Connell Ave,

AND THEN SUNDAY....
Downtown Buffalo
St Patrick's Day Parade

Sunday, March 16    2 PM
Along Delaware Ave. From
Niagara Square To North St.

The ethnicity of Buffalo and Western New York is just fabulous. You've got a great Pulaski Day parade, certainly the Italian Festival, and the Germans, and the big parade for Juneteenth. We really do have some great parades, but I'm kind of favoring the ones that are coming this weekend. I think the name O'Connell already gave me away."

   - WGRZ's Kevin O'Connell
 

"Especially after this winter, I think it's going to be a sign of hope that spring is coming," said Chris Laffler, (pictured R)  who will serve as Grand Marshal for this year's festivities.

"This is going to be, I think, more of a normal Buffalo day," Laffler said about the possibly chilly temperatures this weekend compared to the balmy weekends of the past two years. "I'm the 74th Grand Marshall, so in 74 years, Buffalo has had some weather."

What about that weekend forecast? Are people feeling confident about the parade going off without a hitch just days after a blizzard?

http://imgsrv.wben.com/image/DbGraphic/201203/2071462.jpg"I think this year Saint Patrick was looking down going 'alright I'll give you a little something that you have to deal with on Wednesday, but we'll make it nice for the weekend.' So we get the blizzard out of the way and now we can really focus on wearing the green and having some fun," O'Connell said.

O'Connell thinks this weekend is a favorite for many of the same reasons other parades and festivals are welcomed in Buffalo.

"The ethnicity of Buffalo and Western New York is just fabulous. You've got a great Polaski Day parade, certainly the Italian Festival, and the Germans, and the big parade for Juneteenth. We really do have some great parades, but I'm kind of favoring the ones that are coming this weekend. I think the name O'Connell already gave me away."
 

From the US Library of Congress:
Buffalo St. Patrick's Day Parade, 1946Buffalo St. Patrick's Day Parade, 1946. Photo courtesy United Irish-American Association of Erie County via The Library of Congress/loc.gov

Each year, thousands of people flock to downtown Buffalo to enjoy the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. The city decorates every light pole along the Delaware Avenue parade route with the tri-color flag of Ireland. Businesses along the parade route sprinkle shamrocks on their windows, and stretch banners wishing a "Happy Saint Patrick's Day."

First held on March 17, 1913, when a group of Buffalo's Irish immigrants decided to manifest their allegiance to both their native and their adopted countries, the Buffalo St. Patrick's Day Parade pays tribute to the patron saint of Ireland. First Parade Marshal Mike Quinn led a group of 5,000 marchers from the Elk Street Market Terminal to Euclid Place and back in sub-zero temperatures.

After a hiatus from 1917 - 1935, the parade has been held every year since 1935, with the exception of World War II years (1942-45). The Parade was postponed for a week only once, in 1997, when more than 18 inches of snow fell and wind chills of 30 below threatened frostbite.Today four generations have worn the top hat, worn cutaways, and carried the blackthorn that belonged to Mike Quinn. Today the parade is always held the Sunday closest to St. Patrick's Day (March 17).

The United Irish-American Association works with the city of Buffalo each year to organize the parade, and each year the UIAA selects a grand marshal from among its members. The parade route was moved from Main Street to Delaware Avenue in 1981 to allow for more spectators

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