Gloomy skies did not dampen the sunny dispositions on thousands of smiling faces at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday.
There seemed to be more people wearing the green than there were blades of grass in the downtown area.
Pompano Beach Irishman Garrett Mooney was dressed in a giant inflatable shamrock suit, and if his wife Veronica, daughter Tori, 16, and son Austin, 11, were embarrassed, their blushing was green too.
“All the floats that have gone by are really beautiful,” he said. “We liked the Irish bagpipes walking by. That was our favorite.”
The pipers led the Broward 10-13 Club of Retired New York City Police Officers, of which Lou Randazzo is a member.
This was not his first Irish rodeo.
The 69-year-old Coral Springs resident calls it tradition.
“The Irish have been members of the police department since the beginning in New York,” he said. “And, even though I’m Italian I want to pay tribute to my brothers.”
Robert Meiler, 55, of Parkland, spent 10 years with NYPD but Fort Lauderdale’s parade was his first.
“We’re all green today, but the rest of the time we’re all blue,” he said.
And, some wear red when they’re not wearing green, such as Bruce Britton, 44, of Plantation, who is an assistant fire marshal for the City of Miramar, marching in the parade with his family and firefighting friends.
“Some people just see it as a celebration, to drink beer,” he said, of St. Patrick’s Day. “But, we see it as an opportunity to get out in the community and let everyone know who we are, which is the Firefighters Association of South Florida, and we’re all about community outreach.”
The festivities kicked off early with the 4-mile Shamrock Run along East Las Olas Boulevard between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., followed by live concerts, bagpipers, marching bands, Irish dancers, floats, fire engines, a kids zone full of rides, and plenty of food and green beer.
For some, St. Patrick’s Day can be a reminder of just how lucky they are.
“I do feel lucky, every day,” said Mooney, hugging his family in his balloon-like shamrock suit. “Today, more so.”