DENVER (CBS4) – There was plenty o’ green and lots of Irish cheer in downtown Denver on Saturday as an estimated 350,000 people lined the streets of LoDo for the 51st annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Denver’s parade is considered to be the largest parade of its kind west of the Mississippi River. It’s the one event where everyone claims a little Irish blood. Just ask Mayor Michael Hancock, who on this day was Michael O’Hancock.
“I see a lot of energy, a lot of great representation of Denver; 350,000 plus people out here enjoying themselves,” O’Hancock said.
Andi McMartinez of Thornton saw Denver’s parade for the first time.
“I had to come down and feel the energy,” she said.
Across the street the parade is a family tradition with four generations represented.
“It is the best day on the planet. We actually call it our national family holiday because part of the family is up in the judging booth and they have been for years,” Delta resident Mariah Emond said.
PHOTO GALLERY: St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Emond said her grandmother, who is a judge, has been a part of the parade committee for more than 30 years.
“What’s better than this?” Emond said.
Putting on a parade of that size is no small task. In fact, volunteers work 12 months out of the year to bring a lot of Irish sprit to Denver.
“This one day will power all 300 of us until next year. It’s just awesome,” Parade President John Morrissey said.
Morrissey said the Irish celebration grew into what it is today from an idea three drinking buddies had back in 1961. Now, with 200 entries and 10,000 participants, it’s a Denver tradition likely to have countless people seeing green for many more years to come.
The theme of this year’s parade was “liberty, freedom, opportunity — honoring Colorado’s Irish.”