By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Gray skies and chilly temperatures didn’t stop people from lining Market Street for a chance to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a few days early.
Kids, adults and even some dogs watched as a large shamrock balloon, marching bands and more streamed by as part of the 33rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
A police car, sheriff car and fire-truck started the parade off Sunday but were quickly followed by this year’s grand marshals — all 100 of them.
Sporting white shirts emblazoned with a year date in green, marking the 100 years of the Youngstown St. Patrick Church’s existence, the Rev. Edward Noga and 99 parishioners marched and shouted, “St. Pat’s where it’s at!”
Kids clutched bags of various sizes and shapes, all meant for one purpose: being filled with as much candy as possible. They weren’t disappointed as Tootsie Rolls and Dum Dum lollipops flew through the air.
Brianna Hall, 7, of Boardman decorated a brown bag with Leprechauns, a rainbow and shamrocks, specifically to collect candy at the parade.
“They throw out lots of candy,” she said. Tootsie Rolls are her favorite, she said.
Hall attended with her grandmother, Carol Cox of Poland.
“We’ve been coming for the last four or five years,” Cox said. “It’s fun.”
They attend no matter what Mother Nature brings that year — rain, snow or sunshine.
“We come dressed for it,” Cox said. “We brought the umbrella in case.”
Cox enjoys hearing the bands and bagpipes, while Hall enjoys the clowns and dogs.
Lori and Herb Fitzgerald of Canfield have attended the event since they moved to the area 12 years ago.
“Fitzgerald is an Irish name,” Lori Fitzgerald said. “My husband is Irish.”
Herb Fitzgerald says the parade is a nice kickoff to spring.
He also likes to see the veterans in the parade.
“I like to pay respect to the veterans’ groups, past and present,” he said.
Now the couple has a second reason to attend: their daughters, Lorraine, 12, and Kayla, 10, participate as Irish step dancers.
Michael Fitzgerald, 7, said his favorite part of the parade is getting candy, but watching his sisters dance comes close.
Spectators don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the event, as this year’s theme explains — “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”