- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

Kilts and short skirts were popular yesterday, and not just because the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade marched down Constitution Avenue in the District.

“There’s a lot more people here because of the weather,” said Manuel Pinto, 66, of Silver Spring, who, with his wife, Virginia, has taken part in the parade every year since it began 35 years ago in Dupont Circle.

The spectators, many of them in green, lined Constitution Avenue from Seventh to 17th Street Northwest for more than three hours to watch the parade of 117 celebrating units.

Although the sun didn’t shine, the 70-degree weather was encouraging.

Many onlookers clapped their hands to the rhythm of the Irish band music and dancers, mostly girls and women. The dancers’ upper bodies seemed to be floating, while their legs and feet kicked out and spun in time to the drums, fiddles and bagpipes.

Although they were celebrating the patron saint of Ireland, not all of those who came out for the parade were Irish.

The Pintos, for example, were dressed in historic German clothes. Mr. Pinto wore a brown pointed hat with a colorful band, a bloused shirt, brown plaid kilts and knee-high plaid socks. Mrs. Pinto wore a full-skirted, white dress that matched her white hair.

“It’s Bavarian,” Mr. Pinto explained, and fits in with SuGTV “Washingtonia” of Washington, a club created more than 70 years ago to promote Bavarian folk dancing.

Later in the parade came 2006 Miss D.C. National Teenager Marisa West, bedecked in a long white dress and a jeweled crown, sitting in an old red pickup truck. Close behind seated atop a black convertible was Miss Annapolis Ashley Windle, who wore a black gown and her crown.

Leading the parade was Grand Marshal Susan O’Malley, president of Washington Sports & Entertainment. Miss O’Malley oversees all business operations for the Washington Wizards.

Setting the rhythm were the bands of the U.S. Air Force, marching platoons of the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and 3rd U.S. Infantry “Old Guard” fife and drum corps.

Up to 50 D.C. Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes & Drums players in kilts instilled the Irish mood.

The youthful members of the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance were among the several dance schools that participated in the parade.

The dancers, mostly made up of girls and women, wore short, multicolored dresses. They smiled as they stomped their feet, kicked up their legs and whirled about. Young spectators, many of them with green shamrocks painted on their cheeks, cheered.

Also present were many dogs, of all varieties, not just Irish wolfhounds. “I Love My Dog” was printed on the shirts of 20 dog owners, including Karen McNally, a student at Greenbelt Dog Training.

“It seems there are a lot more people here than in the past,” Miss McNally said.

Some participants handed out candy to children, although parents got some of the sweets, too.

Metropolitan Police Patrol Officer John Patrick McArdle rode by, then turned his motorcycle around and stopped beside an Irish family.

He gave small bottles of water to four children while their father ordered them to pose for a picture.

“This is a good one,” said retired D.C. police Officers Danny Jeffers, 65, and Lou Leonard, 64. “We were a little chilly last year.”

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