A new, troublesome topic hovered over the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York this year: Britain’s failed Brexit deal with the European Union that could squeeze Ireland’s economy, Associated presss reports.
But nothing could put a damper on the largest American celebration of Irish heritage on Saturday, with tens of thousands of marchers following a painted green line up Fifth Avenue for the six-hour procession.
Kevin Coughlan, a 27-year-old spectator wearing pants with four-leaf clovers, captured both the New York celebration and the political near-catastrophe overseas, where he still has plenty of family — in Ireland.
I’ve always been so proud to be an Irish-American, and that’s what today is about; it’s more than just one big party, it’s about celebrating our freedom,” said the Hoboken, New Jersey, resident.
His mood darkened when he turned to Brexit, which “is definitely something we’re all worried about, especially my family,” he said. “I mean, we’re all sort of just waiting for the shoe to drop to see what this means for the Irish economy.”
But, he added, “We can get through anything; we survived a potato famine.”
This year’s official parade theme was immigration, with Brian O’Dwyer, an immigration attorney and activist as the grand marshal. He’s a co-founder of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens that helps clients including a group of Latino immigrants that joined O’Dwyer on Saturday.