In Kansas City, a Festive Yet Cautious St. Patrick’s Day Parade


Irish dancers, Gaelic football players, green everything: Thousands of spectators gathered for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday, the first citywide parade since a deadly shooting last month roiled the city’s Super Bowl celebration.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade, the city’s 50th this year, is regarded as one of the country’s largest, with crowds known to reach hundreds of thousands. On Sunday, a sizable — but notably smaller — crowd sporting green beanies, vests, cowboy hats and sweatshirts came together, even under high winds and chilly temperatures.

The parade showcased Gaelic Athletic Club members demonstrating their hurling skills, bagpipe players, antique fire trucks and lots of green items, including cotton candy, plaid hats and stuffed animals. There was a stand with T-shirts that read “Kansas City has our own St. Patrick,” with a photo of the Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes — which at one point were almost blown away by the fierce winds.

But the festivities were not without the somber reminder of a shooting at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade on Feb. 14 that left one dead and 22 injured, rattling the community. Two men, Lyndell Mays, 23, and Dominic Miller, 18, were charged with murder in connection to the shooting, and two teenagers were charged with resisting arrest and “gun-related” offenses.

Still, many on Sunday were determined to not let last month’s tragedy disrupt a treasured tradition.

“I don’t live my life through fear,” said Tiffany Hermann, 40, at the parade, who also attended the Super Bowl celebration. “I’m going to enjoy my life to the fullest.”

There was a heavy police presence, with more than 400 officers, including some in plain clothes in the crowd, according to Sgt. Phil DiMartino of the Kansas City Police. He added that was about a 10 percent increase of officers from the year before. Several police cars lined the parade route.

Whether it was wariness over last month’s shooting, or the colder weather, or some other reason, attendance at the parade on Sunday appeared to be much smaller than that of past years. Some spectators noticed there were significantly fewer people this year.

“Normally you have to look through people. You would never find an area like this where there’s a big gap between people and nobody standing in front of you,” said Sadie Sanchez, 60, an engineering manager.

Ms. Sanchez’s daughter, Cherri Sanchez, a 36-year-old paramedic, said her brother decided not to come after being at the scene of the shooting. “He’s a little bit traumatized still.”

A group of friends who attended the Chiefs parade said they felt safer coming to Sunday’s event because the crowd was smaller. Sarah Jones, 23, a copywriter, still felt unease but ultimately decided to attend.

“I just don’t want people to think of Kansas City and think of” the shooting, Ms. Jones said, adding, “There’s so much more that’s special about here.”

For some, the cheerful and wholesome atmosphere was enough to come celebrate, despite the recent shooting.

“When the town gets together, it’s nothing but fun, love and friendship. It’s family,” said Autum Diggs, 28, who works in sales and as a medical assistant. She added, “I’m not going to let one bad apple spoil it all for us.”

A little girl holding a green hat danced to a marching band making its way through the parade. Even as her family was leaving the parade grounds, she kept dancing, as the music faded.

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