By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The sky was gray, but downtown was green on Sunday.
For many revelers at the Cincinnati Saint Patrick Parade, the event is a chance to sham-rock and roll.
"It's an excuse to drink green beer in public!" said Kevin Kirby, 36.
He was one of many Price Hill friends who have fashioned a tradition around watching the green line. The group of about 25 observes the parade from the corner of Fifth and Vine streets every year, shouting and waving to marchers. From there, they hit a few bars.
"Everyone is here for the same reason - to have fun!" said Kim Carr, 42, swinging strands of green beads.
For many, however, the parade also brings out deeply rooted emotions. An example was Kevin Walker, 44, of Cleves, who proudly displayed a green shirt full of Irish-themed buttons.
"I will always be down here," he said. "Until the day I die."
Tom Cunningham, 47, of Saint Bernard has attended every parade, either participating or watching from the side.
"I look at it now as family heritage," he said.
Since its inception, the parade has brought out as many as 50,000 people, making it one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country. About 270 U.S. cities host similar processions to celebrate the signature Irish holiday.
"As a city, it gets us good press having something like this," said Michael Francis Kelly, 51, of Anderson Township, who was dressed as a leprechaun. "We're spreading the merriment of the Irish."
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