Hundreds of Thousands Mark St. Patrick's Day Festivities in Chicago - NBC Chicago

Hundreds of Thousands Mark St. Patrick's Day Festivities in Chicago

Mayoral candidates, stars, and politicians alike were in attendance for the annual event

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    It was a sunny, but chilly, day in Chicago as hundreds of thousands came out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in grand style.

    The annual dyeing of the Chicago River drew big crowds in the morning, and a slew of dignitaries made their way downtown for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Grant Park.

    The scene was a bit different this year, as the city increased security along the parade route on Columbus Drive. The hundreds of thousands of visitors who were expected to attend had to go through one of two security checkpoints, and for the first time, coolers and alcohol were not allowed along the parade route.

    “There’s been no problems,” Teri Sherwood, an Ohio resident visiting for the weekend, said. “I mean, obviously they have it down pat, and they’ve done a great job with it.”

    Both of Chicago’s mayoral candidates were also at the parade, including Toni Preckwinkle, as she celebrated her birthday.

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    “I always say it’s an Irish Catholic town and I’m neither Irish nor Catholic, but I get to celebrate since it’s my birthday,” she said.

    Lori Lightfoot was also at the parade, and she said the event brings back fond memories of her first years in Chicago.

    “The first time I ever came to Chicago, I was a college freshman and I came on St. Patrick’s Day,” she said. “So this is like an anniversary day for me of what I didn’t know then, but as the start of my life in this great city.”

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    The man that both candidates are aiming to replace was also at the event, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel took in the sights of his last St. Patrick’s Day parade as Chicago mayor.

    “I hope I’ve lived up to the responsibilities that have come with that office and it has been an incredible honor to serve the people of the city of Chicago,” he said.

    Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Vardakar was also in attendance, as was Ultimate Fighting Championship star Conor McGregor.

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