Tourists lead Dublin paradePublished: 3/18/13 @ 12:00
Never mind the fickle Irish weather. A chilly, damp Dublin celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with artistic flair anyway Sunday as the focal point for a weekend of Irish celebrations worldwide.
More than 250,000 revelers braved the occasionally snowy, sleety skies to line the streets for the traditional holiday parade, a 2-mile jaunt through the city’s heart involving performers from 46 countries.
Unusually, 8,000 tourists in town for the festivities led this year’s procession in a “people’s parade.” Many donned leprechaun costumes or deployed banners and flags of their home nations or U.S. states, with the Texans making the biggest impression as they sported “Happy St. Paddy’s Day, Y’All!” T-shirts.
Sunday’s decision to put tourists in the vanguard was connected to a yearlong tourism promotion called The Gathering that is organizing hundreds of clan reunions nationwide in hopes of boosting the economy. That’s sorely needed in an Ireland struggling with 14 percent unemployment, heavy emigration and a household-debt crisis after the 2008 collapse of its Celtic Tiger boom.