- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

Throngs of green-clad revelers lined the streets of Washington and Baltimore yesterday for the annual St. Patrick's Day parades, passing on a uniquely American tradition to a new generation of Irish Americans.
The crowds were as colorful as the parade itself, as those with Irish blood in their veins or just the Irish spirit in their hearts donned green shirts, hats, beads and boas for the occasion.
"We're turning our kids onto the same things we enjoyed when we were kids," said Tom Doyle, 32, who came to the District from Southern Maryland with about 30 members of his extended family.
They were at the corner of 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, preparing to join an Irish club from the District when it passed in the parade. The Doyle clan and their brethren in the O'Brien family have marched with the club since the parade began in the early 1970s.
This year, the youngest in their group was 18-month-old Delaney O'Brien.
Didi Vogal brought her three grandchildren from Burtonsville to the Baltimore parade. She felt duty-bound to uphold her family's Irish traditions.
"My parents used to make us wear green on St. Patrick's Day," she said. "I used to drag my kids to the parade, too."
Mike McIntyre kept up his own tradition of dying his soft-coated Irish Wheaten terrier green with food coloring. As it does every year, the sight of a green dog walking through the crowd in Baltimore drew laughs and gasps.
"The kids like it," said Mr. McIntyre, 49. "It brings a lot of smiles to people."
Kalyn Fitz-Henry, a 7-year-old who described herself as being "a quart" Irish, said the best thing about the Baltimore parade was the free candy thrown into the crowd and the silly string people sprayed on parade riders.
She considered herself a parade regular. "I've seen every single one," she said.
But you didn't have to claim any Irish lineage to lay claim to the good times yesterday.
Nelly Ganesan, 22, said that neither her Indian ancestry nor her Alaskan upbringing would deter her from partaking of the District's St. Patrick's Day festivities.
"It's a great holiday. Everyone is really happy," she said. "You can celebrate it if you aren't Irish because there is so much Irish spirit around."
Temperatures in the mid-60s and partly sunny skies helped draw thousands to both parades and made for an exceptionally jubilant celebration. Neither event was marred by war protests or any other significant disturbance, police said.
Duke Stokes, 68, was glad that the public debate over war against Iraq didn't tinge the St. Patrick's Day fun in the District.
"I think you get enough of that on TV, and maybe a couple hours to enjoy the parade is enough," said Mr. Stokes, who lives in Adelphi. "[Protesters] had their day yesterday."
At both parades there were processions of vintage cars, fife and drum bands, Irish folk dancers, bagpipers in kilts and parade riders tossing candy and trinkets to the children in the crowd.
In Baltimore, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele walked in the parade down Charles Street to the Inner Harbor.
"It's nice to see them walking and not in a car. They are waving and participating like one of the people," said Tery Mooney, 48, who had never before seen the new governor in person.
The Washington parade went up Constitution Avenue. It included military marching bands, columns of soldiers in dress uniforms from every branch of the military, mounted police, a caravan of more than a dozen fire engines and countless Irish clubs, such as the D.C. fire and police departments' Emerald Societies.
Providing a distinctively D.C. flavor, one group carried a long banner that read, "The Loyal and Patriotic Order of Irish-American Reaganites." It was trailed by three red convertible sports cars decorated with the order's slogans.
A large picture of former President Reagan against a U.S.-flag background carried the message "America: Reagan Country."
Derry, Ireland, native Maria McPhillips, 26, was impressed by the scale and caliber of the D.C. parade.
"This is in a league of its own," said Miss McPhillips, a National Institutes of Health scientist.
"We usually have it on a much smaller scale. It's more low key and there are a lot less military."

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