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Celebrating Irish blood, spectators pack Washington Street for Sunday festival parade (VIDEO)

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Town of DeKalb couple Paul P. and Anna M. Trombley, who both have Irish heritage, made the trip south to Watertown on Sunday afternoon to attend the Watertown Goes Green Irish Festival parade on Washington Street for the first time.

Mrs. Trombley, dressed in a newly purchased green sweater and hat for the parade, said the couple made it a priority to attend the festival after putting it off for years. Washington Street was closed to traffic at 1 p.m. Sunday and packed with hundreds of people — many with Irish blood — who gathered to watch the 29th annual parade. The grand marshal leading the parade was retired Col. Michael T. Plummer, followed by local dignitaries, municipal groups, floats and a performance by the Johnston School of Irish Step Dancing.

“We’ve been doing a little Irish shopping before the parade,” said Mrs. Trombley, a New York City native whose Irish relatives immigrated to Yonkers via the Hudson River. Mr. Trombley’s Irish relatives arrived on Ellis Island.

“We’re very supportive of this cause,” said Mr. Trombley, 49, who was sporting a bright green top hat he has owned for years.

Commenting on the long, cold winter, Mayor E. Jeffrey Graham said Irish Festival activities helped boost the community’s morale by signaling that spring will soon arrive.

“I haven’t seen this much sustained winter weather in a long time, and I think it can become a drain,” he said. “Irish Festival weekend helps people transition out of the winter.”

Mr. Graham was standing alongside Colleen M. O’Neill, a former state trooper who announced her candidacy for Jefferson County sheriff in January. Mrs. O’Neill, a Democrat who is aiming to become the first woman elected sheriff in the state, was dressed in festive Irish attire and shaking hands with people in the crowd.

“I come every year. With a name like O’Neill, how could I not?” she said, adding that her campaign for sheriff is “going very well.”

“It’s a long way from November, but we’re going to keep going and hope people will vote for who they think is the best candidate,” she said.

Also taking advantage of the parade as a political occasion was John L. Byrne III, a Republican Cape Vincent town councilman who recently announced his candidacy for the state Assembly seat held by Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa. Dozens of green balloons with Mr. Byrne’s name were handed out to spectators.

A family from Chaumont — adorned to the hilt with Irish earrings, bead necklaces and washable tattoos — was among the crowd of spectators enjoying the parade. Kimberly A. Davis, 38, said she and her 22-year-old daughter, Carissa A. Mahon, are both proud of their Irish heritage. Also in the group were Ms. Mahon’s 6-year-old stepsister, Carolanne F. Miner, and 5-month-old daughter, Eden V.E. Mahon.

“I would say our favorite part of the festival is the parade and Irish dancers,” Mrs. Davis said, adding that they recently went on a shopping spree to buy the Irish outfits.

Ms. Mahon has always been spirited and vocal about her Irish heritage, wearing green every year on St. Patrick’s Day.

“When I went to Lyme Central in Chaumont, one year I was the only one dressed up and I got an award,” she said.

Video of the parade can be viewed at http://wdt.me/IrishParade.




North Country Goes Green Irish Festival parade
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