There are "two great days in Detroit" for Ryan O'Halloran -- "Opening Day and the St. Patrick's Day parade."
"That's when everyone from all over comes out and has a good time," the 28-year-old Royal Oak resident said as friend Koebe Mosher nodded in agreement.
The two were among hundreds who gathered in the sunshine along Michigan Avenue on Sunday afternoon for the 51st annual St.
Patrick's Day parade in Corktown.
Highlighting the parade theme "The Irish were Green before it was cool," many were decked out in their best green attire waving Irish flags while taking part in numerous tailgates in parking lots such as Maxies Deli across from the old Tiger stadium.
Vendors selling St. Paddy's hats, necklaces, bags, shamrock sunglasses and more were also out in full force.
The two-hour festivities kicked off at Sixth Street and moved west toward 14th Street with horse-drawn carriages, clowns zipping by on miniature motorcycles and parade participants throwing beads and candy to spectators. Some onlookers wearing green wigs watched the parade from roof tops and cheered as five DeLorean sports cars manufactured in Northern Ireland cruised by with the doors raised open.
Various bands including the Wyandotte Marching Chiefs marching band also got people off the curbs and out of their lawn chairs dancing. But the best part for Jim Doyle of St. Clair was listening to the bagpipers and drummers clad in kilts, he said.
"I love listening to them because it's all about ... the history. It doesn't get any better than that," Doyle said. "This entire event gives people a sense of community."
Kathi Kelly agrees. She drove down from Gaylord to share her family's Irish roots with her two grandchildren attending their first St. Patrick's Day parade in Detroit.
"I grew up in the Metro area and have attended many of these parades. I love the camaraderie and it's such a happy time. If you look around everyone is smiling," Kelly said. "So I couldn't miss out on sharing this experience with granddaughter and grandson. It's very exciting seeing their responses to everything."
Kelly's five-year-old grandson Andrew Whitman of Brownstown watched with glee as a dog dressed in a green hat and beads zipped by in a remote controlled car.
"Wow!" he shouted pointing at the car. "This is really fun."