The city's celebration is older than the constitution, dating back
to the Dutch days of 1766. Still strictly marchers-only (no cars
or floats allowed), this year's 245th annual parade is officially
dedicated to the Fighting 69th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard who served in Iraq and the 19 who were killed in action. The festivities begin with a blessing
from Cardinal Edward M. Egan, Archbishop of New York, who will celebrate
mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral
at 8:30 a.m.not long before crowds start gathering along
the parade route.
Friday, March 17, 11 a.m. to approximately 5:30
The parade begins at 44th St. and Fifth Ave. and proceeds
north along Fifth Ave. to 86th St.
best vantage points:
Any spot along Fifth Avenue toward the north end of
the parade route, far from midtown's shopping and work crowds and
the NBC camera crews.
The steps of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.) are a particularly
good bet since marchers often pause outside the nearby American
Irish Historical Society.
The official reviewing stand lies at 64th Street,
and free tickets are available for bleachers running from 62nd to
65th streets. Seating is on a first-come first-served basis and
many more tickets are distributed than seats are available. Call
Cardinal Edward M. Egan officially reviews the parade
and greets crowds from the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Mayor Bloomberg marches along with
a crop of local politicians: Speaker of the City Council Gifford
Miller and the borough presidents.
Grand Marshall Timothy J. Rooney, son of Arthur Rooney, the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and associate member of the New York and American Stock Exchanges, leads the parade.
The famed 69th Regiment marches at the head
of the parade as the Grand Marshall's military escort.
Royal Canadian Mounty Police march behind the NYPD.
FDNY Commissioner Hayden Scoppetti marches with other
Bagpipe bands from Birmingham, England; Spain's Gallaica
region; counties Tipperary and Carlow, Ireland; and elsewhere.
High school bands from across the country.
Irish societies and interest groups from the U.S.A. and
the motherland: Youghel, and counties Cork and Carlow, Ireland.
The television coverage:
Armchair spectators can tune in to NBC, channel 4, which
will be taping live from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various points along the parade route.