People enjoy Baltimore's 63rd annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)
Everyone was Irish on Sunday as the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade — a merry stream of classic cars, bands, Irish wolfhounds and Mummers — made its way down Charles Street and through the Inner Harbor.
While a marching band warmed up on Centre Street, Jerome Ross, 82, sat parked in the driver’s seat of his navy blue 1954 Kaiser Manhattan, with his grandson sitting shotgun. Though he’s not Irish, he’s driven in the parade for the past 22 years, and is one of many Baltimoreans for whom the event is a time-honored tradition.
Besides, he said: “Everybody’s Irish today.”
For 30 years, members of the May family have met at the corner of Charles and Hamilton streets to watch the festivities. On Sunday, they wore matching green hats and clutched drinks from green solo cups.
“We all did our DNA,” said Pat May Melvin, the eldest of 12 May children. It proved what they all already knew: They’re Irish.
For others, the parade was a new experience. Jack Kluga, 6, and Liam Teaff, 5, wore green felt hats and stick-on green mustaches at their first St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“I like it a lot,” said Jack.
Of all the floats that had passed so far, Liam said he liked “the army stuff” best.
“That’s a theme in life,” said his mom, Rebecca Teaff.
Charlie Phelan, 6, jumped and kicked in the air on the steps of Old St. Paul’s Church. He was imitating a gaggle of dancing leprechauns as they passed by.
While many attendees wore green shirts and headbands, or fuzzy hats saying “I’m Irish,” members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians took a more dignified approach. They wore top hats and morning suits, a tradition that member Fran Reinhardt said dated to his grandfather, Frank E. Dougherty, a Baltimore tailor and former president of the group’s Towson chapter.
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The parade interrupted traffic through downtown Baltimore for much of Sunday. Around 2 p.m., Andrew Robinson, 63, was sprawled out in the front seat of his Diamond Cab, parked at the intersection, waiting for the parade to finish so he could drive on.
“It is a little long,” Robinson said. He’d been waiting for 15 minutes. But still, he was glad for the parade.
“This sure beats all the nasty things that happen,” he said.
The route wound through the Inner Harbor. On Light Street, Albert Fabula, 80, of Severna Park, stood with his family, wearing a tweed blazer, woolen sweater and scarf, all purchased from Ireland. He was waiting to watch three grandchildren who were dancing in the parade to pass by. Despite his outfit, Fabula has no Irish ancestry.
The sunshine and relatively warm weather was a welcome change for Felicia Kaminski, who marched with the Duffy String Band from Philadelphia. Another welcome change: ripping off the yellow sequinned Mummers costume at the parade route’s end.