- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2014

It’s almost that one day each year when everybody suddenly is Irish — and looking to be kissed for it.

Erin go bragh, indeed.

Monday is St. Patrick's Day, but the D.C. area will begin its celebrations this weekend with parades and festivities for young and old (and even non-Irish) alike.

Here are some of the events scheduled for the celebration of all things Irish:

The District

In 1971, the St. Patrick's Day parade in Washington, D.C., began as a small group of people taking a walk together down Constitution Avenue. This year’s two-hour procession will be held Sunday and led by a grand marshal — the Rev. Monsignor Salvatore Criscuolo.

“He is the chaplain for the fire department and police force in D.C. There is a lot of Irish heritage in the force in D.C.,” said Caroline Allen said, a spokeswoman for the parade committee.

Monsignor Criscuolo has served as the chaplain for past parades, but the committee wanted to honor him as the grand marshal this year. The parade’s theme is “Selfless Service” this year.

“It is tied to the monsignor because of the selfless service he has given to the forces,” Ms. Allen said, adding that he has served as chaplain for many years, and officiated weddings for the firefighters, police and even their children. “He has spent his life in service for the first responders.”

Expect a long line of Irish dancers and pipe bands, decorated floats, marching bands and much more.

Gaithersburg

Montgomery County’s second-largest city has seen its St. Patrick's Day parade grow since it was first held in 2001 and attracted about 1,000 people. Last year’s event drew nearly 10,000, and this year’s celebration will be held Saturday.

“This is the 14th year, and it’s pretty exciting,” said parade Chairwoman Mary Gray. “The first parade started in a bar called Mrs. O’Leary’s, which isn’t there anymore. I’m proud to say it’s a volunteer-based effort, and it started out as an idea in a bar.”

Celtic dancers, bagpipe bands and local groups are set to march at Washingtonian Center (I-370 and Washingtonian Boulevard).

There are four parking garages in the area, as well as a pedestrian bridge connecting the farthest garages to the parade area. Vehicles parked in Garage 2 on Rio Boulevard will not be able to leave until the parade is over, after 1 p.m.

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