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Associated Press
Krystal Thomas of Atlanta parties on River Street while wearing a shamrock head-band during the 189th St. Patrick's Day celebration on Friday in Savannah, Ga.

Revelers await St. Patrick's Day from NY to Dublin

NEW YORK (AP) — The Irish, their descendants and the Irish for the day prepared to don green and pay tribute to Hibernian heritage as a weekend of St. Patrick's Day celebrations was set from New York's Fifth Avenue to the Louisiana bayou to Dublin's Parnell Square.

With the holiday itself falling on a Sunday, many observances were scheduled instead for Saturday because of religious observances. In New York, a massive St. Patrick's Day Parade that predates the United States was due to proceed Saturday, with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny among the marchers. Chicago was preparing for its own big parade and an eye-catching local custom: dyeing the Chicago River green.

Dublin's five-day St. Patrick's Day festival was unfolding with a new addition. For the first time, up to 8,000 visitors from around the world were due to march in a "People's Parade" on Sunday, when Ireland's capital city also intends hold its usual procession of bands and pageantry.

Kenny, who visited Chicago for St. Patrick's Day last year, was again making the holiday a jumping-off point for an extended trip to the U.S., with stops in Washington and on the West Coast over the ensuing several days.

"I will use my visit to promote Ireland's many strengths and to further reinforce our deep and abiding political and economic relationship with the United States," Kenny said in a statement this week.

He and President Barack Obama were scheduled to meet at the White House on Tuesday and exchange shamrocks, a tradition that dates to Harry S. Truman's administration. Obama also is slated to meet separately Tuesday with Peter Robinson, the leader of Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant government.

In Maine, St. Patrick's Day prompted Gov. Paul LePage to relent on a vow to veto any bill that reached his desk before lawmakers pass his proposal to pay a state debt to hospitals. He signed a measure Friday allowing bars to serve alcohol a few hours earlier than usual, starting at 6 a.m., on the Sunday holiday.

About 1,500 miles southwest, the city of Houma, La., was holding its unconventional celebration — an Irish-Italian parade, with a celebration that features both Irish cabbage and Italian sausage — on Sunday. The event resumed last year after a 10-year hiatus.

In Rolla, Mo., the Missouri University of Science and Technology continued a St. Patrick's tradition that began in 1908, when students declared that the patron saint of Ireland also was the patron saint of engineers. A slate of events, which earlier this week included a student portraying St. Patrick being transported downtown on a manure spreader, were to wrap up with a parade Saturday.

Annapolis, Md., held its first St. Patrick's Day parade March 10. A 40-year-old parade tradition took on a sense of renewal March 3 in Belmar, N.J., a shore town that took a heavy blow from Superstorm Sandy.

But along with the festivities, in some places, came warnings from police that they would be on the lookout for drunken drivers and other misbehavior.

New Jersey Transit officials said alcoholic beverages would be barred Saturday on any train between Manhattan and Hoboken, N.J., a nightlife-friendly city across the Hudson River. Transit police arrested 16 people during St. Patrick's Day last year, including two people who were charged with aggravated assault on two conductors.

In Baltimore, where last St. Patrick's Day weekend was marred by a videotaped beating of a visiting man, fights and vandalism, police were stepping up patrols and barring drinking in an area where revelers spilled out of bars last year.

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