- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2001

Sunny skies and temperatures warm enough for shorts and shirt sleeves greeted bagpipers, Irish dancers, fire trucks and thousands of onlookers yesterday for the District of Columbia's colorful St. Patrick's Day parade.

The mild weather brought out the crowds for the festivities, which have been tempered in recent years by storms and chilly weather for the march along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets NW.

"Everybody can be Irish for one day," Patrick McNeally of Annapolis said as he watched with his two children, 6-year-old Breanainn and 3-year-old Madailein, at the corner of 13th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Both children's names are Gaelic.

St. Patrick's Day is actually this Saturday, but no one seemed bothered by such details.

As expected, hundreds of orange, white and green Irish flags flapped in the wind, and most in the crowd wore green.

Mr. McNeally's children both had painted shamrocks and leprechauns on their cheeks. Others wore Dr. Seuss-like hats speckled with shamrocks, and one man bounced through the crowds wearing a hat shaped like a pint of beer.

Paisley Richmond wasn't satisfied with dressing up herself she got her dogs into the act, too.

Betty Jo, Miss Richmond's white Boxer, was decorated with a dozen or so bright green shamrocks from head to toe. She got more attention than some of the marchers.

"It's washable marker," Miss Richmond said.

Another dog of hers, a pug named Horshack, wore a more subtle green bandana around his neck.

For 30 years, the Brookland Club a group of Irish-American families from the area that meets in Southeast has called the corner of 10th and Constitution Avenue home during the parade.

"It's organized chaos," Michelle O'Brien said as she held her son, 5-year-old Sean, who was hiding his face beneath an oversized green bowler hat.

Mrs. O'Brien and members of the O'Brien, Leahy, Doyle and Brady clans all gathered to whoop and holler for every bagpiper, dancer and Irish wolfhound and terrier who passed by.

The Irish families were joined by a multicultural mix of Hispanics, Asians, blacks and others who came out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day a week early.

"I like my grandchildren to see the culture," said Saundra Lopez, a Hispanic Marylander who came to see the festivities.

Nora Donnelly, who came to America from Ireland in 1963 and whose daughter Michelle Kennedy runs the Donnelly School of Irish Dancing in Fairfax County, Va., said the parade brings people together.

"It's the only parade [where] you'll see all nationalities," she said.

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