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Ireland Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day Dublin Parade Draws 300,000; Festivities Include U.S. Bands

Waving shamrocks, wearing green and dancing alongside floats, more than 300,000 people thronged to the Irish capital Sunday for St. Patrick’s Day.

Despite rain, cold and gray skies, the parade threaded in carnival atmosphere from St. Patrick’s Cathedral past City Hall and Trinity College to fill the city’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street.

Once a pale imitation of its American cousins, the Dublin parade featured - for the first time this year - more extravagant acts, including dancers, jugglers, fire-eaters and mimes as well as traditional pipe bands.

Several American bands came for the celebration. A 180-strong band from the University of Nebraska marched along with the 120-member Ohio State University band.

In Cork, 140 miles southwest of Dublin, a 30-member pipe and drum band from the Boston police marched in the parade.

But parade organizers’ hopes of drawing Protestant musical and cultural groups from Northern Ireland were defeated by the Irish Republican Army’s return to bombing last month after a 17-month cease-fire.

In London, Queen Elizabeth II’s mother, the queen mother, distributed shamrocks to the Irish Guards, a regiment of the British army, in a ceremony she started performing 70 years ago.