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NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade

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Spectators look at the parade along Fifth Avenue during St. Patrick's day parade in New York, Saturday, Mar. 17, 2007. (AP Photo/Shiho Fukada) Spectators look at the parade along Fifth Avenue during St. Patrick's day parade in New York, Saturday, Mar. 17, 2007. (AP Photo/Shiho Fukada)
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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined Fifth Ave. on a cold, late winter day to watch the world's largest parade celebrating Irish heritage. The St. Patrick's Day Parade stepped off at 11 a.m. on Fifth Ave. and 44th St. in Manhattan and continued along 5th Ave. until 79th St. Fifth Ave. remained closed between 42nd St. and 86th St. and Madison Ave. was closed between 63rd and 64th St. until 5 p.m.

The spectators -- many visiting from Ireland -- soaked in the sights and sounds of the colorful, festive parade, which is billed as the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world.

The annual event dates back more than 250 years. But this year's parade had some notable absences: Mayor Bill de Blasio did not participate and Guinness and Heineken pulled their sponsorships because the parade does not allow LGBT groups to march under their own banners. LGBT supporters say it is time for a change of the parades traditional stance banning public expressions of gay pride.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton marched, passing by large banners and signs from protestors along the route.

John Dunleavy, the longtime chairman of the parade, doesn't want the focus to be about the politics

"We're here enjoying ourselves in the greatest city in the world," he said.

NJ TRANSIT ALERT:

New Jersey Transit will operate extra bus service to and from New York City's St. Patrick's Parade.

The buses will arrive at and leave from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

NJ Transit trains are operating on a regular weekday schedule. No alcoholic beverages will be permitted on trains to and from New York and Hoboken.

Beverages of any kind are prohibited on buses.


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