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Daniel Doepner and his extended family have been attending the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade for more years than they can remember.

It is a "family tradition," said the Salt Lake City resident decked out in a green hat, sunglasses and clothes.

It was a similar story for the thousands of people who lined Rio Grande Street throughout The Gateway mall on Saturday.

The parade is a chance to celebrate Irish heritage. Or — like Brandon and Bonnie Hanson — just a chance to be Irish for a day.

"It's a great time and a party atmosphere, much better than the other popular parade in Utah," Brandon Hanson said.

This year's grand marshal was John Welsh, Hibernian Society founder, the society's first president and one of the Four Fathers of Salt Lake City's modern St. Patrick's Day Parade.

He was followed by everything from family bands and bagpipes to dancers and dogs.

Riding in a horse-drawn wagon near the beginning of the parade were eight young female musicians who had traveled from Thurles, Ireland — Salt Lake City's sister city in County Tipperary — to perform at the Siasma celebration after the parade. The young women, ages 14-18, were surprised by Utah's St. Patrick's Day pride.

"There are more Irish here than at home," said Mairead O'Dwyer, one of the parent chaperones.

This year's event had the unofficial theme of "Don't Tax St. Pat's," as the Utah Hibernian Society sought donations of about $4,000 to cover the cost of a new police and security user fee imposed by Salt Lake City.

Before the parade began, the Hibernian Society had not yet collected what it needed, but "the donations are still coming in," said society president Richard O'Connor. He hoped that by the end of the day the group would meet its goal.

Until then, "just look at everybody," he said. "They're so happy."

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