The 44th Annual Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, expected to be one of the biggest ever for entries and crowds, got rolling in midtown on a beautiful morning Thursday.
And at least one parade watcher said she had been to all 44.
“It’s my birthday today,” said Trina Rice of Kansas City, who just turned 57. “I love the pipes and drums. … I love this day.”
As a pipes and drums group passed by, she marched in place and filmed the procession on her phone. And as more people passed in floats, she yelled to them that it’s her birthday.
“Happy birthday,” people yelled back.
Parade watchers, of course, were decked out in green. For Kristyn Moreno of Olathe, that meant green lipstick, eyeshadow and fingernail polish, plus a shamrock bow on her head and beads around her neck.
“You have to go all out,” she said. “We come every year, ever since we were little. It’s a tradition.”
In contrast, this was the first year at the parade for Rebecca Schafer of Kearney. She brought her daughters, Perry, 3, and Kendyl, 5.
“It’s something to do and get a little exposure for them,” Schafer said. “We went to the one in Lee’s Summit, and they really liked it. So we decided to come today. It’s kind of crazy.”
They met up with her father, Jim Beaman of Raytown.
“He’s been here since 7 a.m.,” Schafer said.
“I wanted to get a good spot and be in the sun,” Beaman said of the early arrival. “It’s cool in the shade.”
Krisy Jordan of Overland Park got her 5-year-old daughter, Avionnah Franklin, a green vuvuzela horn.
“She’s been blowing it ever since,” Jordan said. “She’s been getting pretty good at it.”
Jordan, who might regret getting the horn later, said Avionnah has attended the parade every year, “even in the cold.”
Avionnah, pausing between blows, said, “It’s really cool to see.”
Amy Moses, senior chairwoman of the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee, said the watchers were among 150,000 to 200,000 people who were expected to turn out for the more than 140 parade entries.
Moses thought this year’s parade saw some spillover from last fall’s Royals World Series championship parade.
“The city is in a really good place right now,” Moses said. “We’re all very excited with how the Royals had done and how successful and peaceful and well organized the Royals’ parade was. I think people are looking for another experience like that.”
Having some area schools on spring break helped bolster the crowds. Some of the largest crowds ever for the parade numbered close to 250,000 people.
Watchers like Moreno were ready for the drill teams, bands, car clubs, floats, pipers and balloons. She found a spot in the sun to enjoy the parade with her friend Ashton Dalton and Moreno’s mother, Delores Spellman, and sister Katie Moreno.
“The people and the parade are super nice,” she said. “I mainly come to see what people are wearing. It’s super funny.”
Alicia Byers of Kansas City, who attended with family, including her children, said they come because it’s a family-friendly environment.
“I’m 33 years old, and I’ve been coming since I’ve been a little girl,” Byers said.
It’s the marching bands she likes the most.
“We like to get up and dance,” she said.
For the second year, people could vote for their favorite float and help Kansas City’s hungry. Each vote takes a $1 donation to Harvesters Community Food Network.
People can vote online until 11 p.m. Thursday at fanfavorite.harvestersvfd.org.