St. Patrick's Day Parade 2017

Thousands attended the 256th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, which shut down a long stretch of Fifth Ave. in Manhattan.

The parade stepped off at about 11 a.m. at 44th St. and then moved to 5th Ave. and up to 79th St.  

New York officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James O'Niell and Gov. Andrew Cuomo also joined the global celebration by leading marches and taking the time to share what St. Patrick's Day means to them.

"This time when they're trying to separate us in this country and they're trying to pull us apart," Cuomo said. "We say we are New York, we're Irish, we're Italian, we're Jewish, we're Muslim. you attack one of us, you attack all of us."

The marchers came from all walks of life -- military members, teachers and students, police and firefighters, politicians, plumbers and steamfitters. Many said the New York parade is even better than the one in Ireland.

Heavily armed officers kept a no-nonsense eye on security around the parade route as a pipe band played "God Bless America."

The New York National Guard's "Fighting 69th" brought its mascots -- Irish wolfhounds.

St. Patrick's Cathedral displayed both the American and Irish flags. A special Mass was held there before the parade stepped off.

The route also passed Trump Tower, the home of President Donald Trump and his family.

The first St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan was held in 1762, 14 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

This year's parade honors Catholic Charities and the New York State Police. The grand marshal is Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health.

Unlike years past, there was no green stripe painted along the parade route likely due to the recent snow storm.

With the Associated Press