HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – For more than 50 years, people from throughout the region have come together for Holyoke’s Saint Patrick celebrations.
Seamus Parnell of Chicopee told 22News, “I really like the Colleens that are here and walking around, and going to the parade tomorrow, and today.”
Brian Farmer, who grew up in Holyoke, said, “I come out here every year now to do this and I won’t miss it.”
As the festivities have grown, so has the impact on Holyoke, with residents saying the weekend is significant not only for those of Irish heritage, but for the whole city of Holyoke.
Gus Cardona Colon noted, “Holyoke might be the community where the Irish flourished, but it’s important to the entire culture, Not just the Irish but everybody, including the Puerto Ricans.”
Organizers said strong community support and pride for their Saint Patrick celebrations has helped the event grow.
Sheila Moreau, one of the directors of marketing for Holyoke’s Saint Patrick’s events, said, “We have various award winners throughout the year, and if you look at the list, it’s every nationality it’s not just Irish. It is about honoring our Irish heritage, but it’s also about community and civic mindedness and coming together.”
As thousands upon thousands of spectators head to Holyoke this weekend, organizer James Leahy said the celebration brings in millions of dollars to the local economy annually. Leahy said it’s an economic boost that benefits a number of towns in the region. Visitors said cold weather wouldn’t keep people from coming together to celebrate. Farmer said, “It could be twenty degrees or eighty degrees. People are going to come”.