GREENWICH, Conn. -- Thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Greenwich to watch the 41st edition of the town's St. Patrick's Day parade on a sunny but chilly and windy Sunday.
The parade, which occurred a few days after the official St. Patrick's Day, began at Town Hall and continued past the library on West Putnam Avenue before taking a turn down Greenwich Avenue. Irish flags were out on a day that celebrates Irish culture and pride. This year's grand marshal has been heavily involved in promoting Irish culture.
Brian O'Connor has deep Irish roots as does his wife, Maura, whose maiden name is Flynn. He has been active in charitable causes and has been president of The Wild Geese, an Irish-American cultural organization. But he said he never expected to be named grand marshal.
"I was shocked to be honest," O'Connor said minutes before the parade stepped off.
Although Brian O'Connor never expected the honor, Maura O'Connor said she wasn't surprised.
"He has done a tremendous amount of Irish cultural promotion, and he is deserving of it," she said.
The couple, who are from New Haven, moved to Greenwich in 1968, the same year they got married when she was a public school teacher and he was developing his law practice. The couple have two daughters, Deirdre and Sarah, and three grandchildren, who were all present at the parade.
"It is a very important day to celebrate our Irish heritage and to see all this wonderful people here happy as can be at the beginning of spring," he said.
Cristy Heffernan and her friend Linda McDermott, from Port Chester, N.Y., attended the parade to cheer on their children, Ryan Heffernan, 13, and Darby McDermott, 13, as they took part with the Port Chester Marching Band. Also standing with them was Cristy's daughter Rylie, 10.
For McDermott, it was her first time at the parade, but Heffernan has attended before.
Heffernan said she enjoys the parade because of its friendly nature.
"It is a family event, you don't see rough activity or fights," she said.
Sharon and Matthew Murphy were watching the parade along with their son Connor, 10, from the street in front of his business, Fred D. Knapp Funeral Home. Also with them was Nick Healy from the funeral home. The Murphys were watching for their daughter Rebecca, 11, who was dancing in the parade as a member of Anam Cara Irish Dance School.
They regularly attend the parade.
"It's a great event for the community and it brings the community together," Matthew Murphy said.
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