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A focus on immigration at New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Posted at 7:43 PM, Mar 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-16 19:43:29-04

Besides the bagpipers, shamrocks, hats in the shape of beer mugs and leprechauns, New York's 258th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade had a more serious tone this year because Grand Marshal Brian O'Dwyer is a serious immigrant advocate.

“My grandmother came here at 16 and her first job was at a mansion on Fifth Avenue and 54th Street,” O’Dwyer, a prominent immigration lawyer, told PIX11 News. “We stopped there and we prayed. Not just for her, but for the millions who came before and after her," he added.

O’Dwyer marched with a group of five Latino clients of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, an organization in Queens he co-founded decades ago.

“Although we have an Irish name, we are helping people from 70 different places live the American Dream,” Siobhan Dennehy, executive director at Emerald Isle Immigration Center, said.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade started way back in 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army.

“The population in all of New York state in 1762 was 200,00 people and we have more people than that marching in the parade this year,” said Sean Lane, chair of Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

The parade had the usual collection of politicians and commissioners, and men and women in uniform.

PIX11's Magee Hickey made a few new friends at the parade. Among them, brothers Tom and Brian Ward. One is a member of the Yonkers Police Department, the other is part of the Mamaroneck Police.