MIDTOWN — On a day steeped in all things Irish, Claire Mullin kept up her three-decade tradition by watching the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the sidewalk in front of Saks Fifth Avenue.
The 262nd New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade passed by the spot on its annual trek up Fifth Avenue on Friday, March 17, with a rousing spectacle of bagpipes, drums, and marchers carrying Irish-themed banners.
“Today’s the day to celebrate your Irish heritage,” Mullin said. “I mean, my parents are immigrants. They came to this country — they didn’t have anything — but they gave us a good life. So why not celebrate the fact that we’re still here?”
Earlier, just a block up from where Mullin stood with friends, Cardinal Timothy Dolan celebrated the annual pre-parade Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
This historic house of worship, with a capacity of 2,500 people, held a full house with dignitaries and the faithful, shoulder to shoulder and clad in their favorite shades of green. Also on hand were Catholic clergy and members of the New York National Guard.
Cardinal Dolan opened his remarks by greeting a long list of guests that included Mayor Eric Adams and State Attorney General Letitia James.
He also welcomed parade grand marshal Kevin Conway, Irish Consul General Helena Nolan, and several concelebrants, including Bishop Robert Brennan, Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and homilist Msgr. Kieran Harrington, a former clergyman in the Diocese of Brooklyn who now serves as the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
“It’s a grand day for Ireland, a grand day for New York City, for America, and for the Irish diaspora worldwide,” Cardinal Dolan proclaimed. “Made all the more grand by your gracious company.
“Fellow Irish, one and all, what better way to commence this grand feast day than with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?”
Msgr. Harrington delivered a homily suggesting the takeaway of the Gospel reading, Luke 5:1-11, “might be the willingness of the disciples to take a risk of faith.”
“Patrick took that risk of faith by returning to a country where he was enslaved,” Msgr. Harrington said. “He took the risk of death because of his commitment to peace. The reason why we are here is because of the faith of that man.”
“[Pope] Francis reminds us that all of us are called to be like Patrick: missionary disciples,” Msgr. Harrington concluded.
Gov. Kathy Hochul greeted Cardinal Dolan during the parade as she passed by the cathedral’s front steps. NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh also stopped to say hello.
Each year, an estimated 150,000 people march in the parade down Fifth Avenue, lined with about two million spectators.
The annual event’s organizers bill it as the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world. The first parade was held on March 17, 1762 — 14 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and of the Archdiocese of New York.
Just before the parade stepped off at 11 a.m., Bishop Brennan reflected on the legacies of Irish immigrants. Despite their poverty, they not only cared for their families but also built hundreds of churches that nurtured the faith.
He noted that immigrants from other countries around the world also made unique contributions.
“Our ancestors,” Bishop Brennan said, “(faced) the struggles of a new life not only to make their own lives better but to make better lives for their children and grandchildren, to give opportunities. That’s my story.”