NEWPORT, R.I (WPRI) – The 61st annual St. Patrick’s Day parade kicked off at 11 a.m. Saturday at Newport City Hall.
Newport’s Mayor says despite the cold temperatures, this year doesn’t compare to some of the past parades in terms of bad weather.
In the mid 1980’s, a blizzard hit the region and Mayor Harry Winthrop says they were the only St. Patrick’s Day parade to actually happen on the east coast.
“If anyone’s in Newport or an Irish Catholic and they want to celebrate, they just come down no matter how cold it is,” said parade marcher Todd Collins Saturday.
Close to 50,000 people were expected to make their way to Newport, with many of them coming from far distances. Kevin Murphy, the Mayor of Newport’s sister city Kinsale, Ireland, came all of the way to celebrate in Rhode Island with a big parade.
“We like to celebrate it quietly,” says Murphy.
“Newport is a wonderful city to visit,” said David Paige, who came from New London, Connecticut with other New London firefighters. “The people are great, the hospitality is excellent, and we truly have a good time.”
Saturday’s parade was also a time to remember past parades, and the people who took part who are not longer with us. Kristen Marshall’s father, a loyal parade goer, was one of two men honored Saturday. Marshall decided to march with her father’s oliver tractor this year, as a tribute.
“This was really important to him so we feel really honored that we were able to come and bring oliver for everyone to see,” said Marshall.
Organizers tell Eyewitness News increased law enforcement planned to patrol the area throughout the event.