The Irish and the honorary Irish took to the streets across the United States today to honor St. Patrick's Day and the wearing of the green, and in the White House an Irish tenor crooned "Oh Ronnie Boy."
In New York, an estimated million people stood 15 deep along Fifth Avenue to view the annual St. Patrick's parade--the world's oldest and largest. An estimated 200,000 marchers--many of them actually Irish--stepped off for the six-hour parade.
Street vendors frantically hawked everything and anything green from sprigs of shamrock to swaths of green dye for spectators' hair.
President Reagan was just sitting down for a senior staff luncheon in Washington when a door to the Cabinet Room flew open and an Irish bagpiper strutted in, playing "Garry Owen." Behind the piper jigged his wife, in the green dress of an Irish dancer. To top it off, an Irish tenor sang the ageless "Londonderry Air," with its lyrics changed to "Ronnie Boy," and a midget clown decked out as a leprechaun bounded into the room.
Kelly Green Tigers
In Florida, Thomas S. Monaghan--who founded an Italian pizza chain and bought the Detroit Tigers--gave his team special uniforms for the day. They showed up for an exhibition game with the Dodgers in Kelly green uniforms.
"It's a surprise for the team and my way of celebrating St. Patrick's," Monaghan said.
Corned beef, cabbage and green beer were on the menu in Chicago, where even the river was dyed green. Mayor Harold Washington kicked off the festivities by accepting a giant green bagel 24 inches in diameter.
Cleveland and Cincinnati showed their fighting Irish when parade sponsors decided to throw their street-side bashes today despite having to ban beer booths this year because they were unable to get adequate liability insurance.
Baltimore and Springfield, Ill., sported green lines down their streets for their parades, but the Illinois capital ponied up a new kick for the wearing of the green.
Some spectators were startled to see green horses prancing along in the Springfield march Saturday.
"I don't know how they got green," said parade spokesman Jim O'Toole.