For some local performers in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, the cheers and applause from the crowd made marching worthwhile.

The annual event, in its 33rd year, attracts thousands of people to downtown Colorado Springs. Spectators of all ages sporting every shade of green lined Tejon Street for the procession, which began at St. Vrain Street and traveled south to Vermijo Avenue.

"I love seeing everyone smile," said 15-year-old Reaghan Dougherty, who performed in the parade with local Irish dance school Celtic Steps.

Roughly 2,000 people marched in the parade, produced by Colorado Springs public relations agency O'Donnell and O'Donnell, according to event manager Joe Poch. The parade's more than 100 entries included local school bands, law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, businesses, youth club chapters and units from area military posts.

Earlier that day, two other St. Patrick's Day events drew hundreds of athletes. Roughly 400 cyclists participated in a citywide bike ride and about 2,500 runners competed in a 5k in downtown Colorado Springs, Poch said.

In the past, the parade has attracted as many as 20,000 people, he said, adding the event has grown to be one of the city's largest parades.

The parade offers some spectators a chance to celebrate their Irish heritage.

"I dress up and go all out every time, no matter what," said 23-year-old Meghan Connolly, her green pigtails accented with emerald lipstick and eyeliner and shamrock-shaped temporary tattoos. She noted she is "99 percent Irish."

Others have made attending the annual event a tradition that allows for optimal people-watching.

Micah Raffler, who watched the procession as a child, attended the parade with his two daughters and nearly two dozen other friends and relatives. "I just love the family aspect and seeing people's different ideas as far as their clothing," said Raffler, 38, who painted his beard lime green for the festivities.


Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

County Government Reporter

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