Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- This is one of the busiest weekends of the year in Central New York. Monster Trucks, The Sammy Awards, Shakespeare and symphony music, even soap opera stars are in the city. But one of the biggest celebrations of the year is the St. Patrick’s Parade in downtown Syracuse.
St. Patrick's Day proper is still nine days away. But with spring-like temperatures expected this Saturday, why wait? Parade officials gathered near the starting line Friday morning to renew a kick-off dreamed up by parade founder Nancy Duffy, a longtime colleague at NewsChannel 9, for whom the parade route is renamed each year.
“I love that tradition. It was started by Nancy years and years ago, and now we're doing it on Nancy Duffy Lane and it just means so much. It's really the start of the Parade itself,” explained Parade President Janet Higgins.
From Clinton Square, the focus moved to City Hall Commons for a celebration of Irish heritage, including many of the city's step-dancing troupes.
This year's grand marshal is former U.S. Attorney Tom Maroney, who has taken a little time recently to consider the part his Irish predecessors have played in history.
“There are lots of other ethnic and cultural groups as well, but certainly, they helped dig that Canal that used to run right through the middle of this town and there's a lot of Irish heritage still,” said Grand Marshal Tom Maroney.
This year's celebration has been moved up a week in part to avoid conflict with SU's last Big East Tournament. The forecast, this weekend and next, makes that decision look good. And the mayor concurs.
“March is an important month for Syracuse, and not just for basketball,” said Mayor Stephanie Miner.
The annual Parade Gala is tonight at the third Pirro Convention Center. And if you can’t make it to the parade route on Saturday, you can always see exclusive coverage on NewsChannel 9, beginning at noon. For event details, CLICK HERE.