Buffalo's eyes were smiling, as sun shines on St. Patrick's Day parade
This year's St. Patrick's Day celebration in Buffalo had something old - tens of thousands of people lining the parade route - and something new - some police officers wearing body cameras to monitor what was going on.
The pipes and drums of the Gordon Highlanders kicked off the parade Sunday, heading up a Delaware Avenue lined by crowds in many shades of green and many hats, scarves, sweaters and beer mugs celebrating the day. Police say there were around 50,000 under the clear blue skies.
Among them were highly visible officers, with some wearing body cams as the Police Department tests them. Police say at least a half-dozen people were arrested during the parade, mostly on disorderly conduct charges.
Grand Marshal Madonna Bugman-Verrastro said the weather was the "luck of the Irish."
"Born and raised in South Buffalo, New York. I did Irish dancing at the Buffalo Irish Center and just always been a part of my heritage, just close to a Christmas holiday for us when we have St. Patrick's Day in my house," said Bugman-Verrastro. "So it's a wonderful event and I'm looking forward, just walking down and saying hi to everybody who came out to support us today. It means a lot. It's a family event."
And there were lots of families in the crowds along the street, many buying from the vendors selling kitsch for the day.
However, there was one item no one else had - and that was the Olympic gold medal worn by local native and Nichols School graduate Emily Pfalzer, who marched in her first St. Patrick's Day parade after winning that gold medal in women's hockey in Korea.
Others march in the parade every year.
"As a child, I marched in this parade with my grandparents who were involved in setting up the Irish Center and working at the Gaelic Athletic Association, played sports and so, this is a big event," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Courtney Hochul. "I do a lot of ethnic parades and events but this one really is personal to me because this is where my family came from."
"Not only is it St. Patrick's Day, it's also the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which ended 700 years of armed conflict in Northern Ireland," said South Buffalo Rep. Brian Higgins. "Peace is holding. It's a great, great celebration of not only St. Patrick's Day, but the 20th anniversary of peace in Northern Ireland. So this is a special day with the weather, with the exuberance."