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SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The annual St. Patrick's Day parade stepped off at high noon on a slightly soggy Monday.

Mother Nature had dropped a bit of sleet and snow on the 5th Street line of march.

Monday's is to be last such promenade in the Capitol city on March 17. Future observances of the patron Saint of Ireland are to be held on a Saturday, rather than the actual date (unless it falls on a Saturday).

"It was much better than I thought it was going to be," observed Mike Flanagan, waving a green and gold flag his wife made. "We were on the wrong street and freezing to death! So, we came up here (to 5th Street) and got warm in the crowd."

"It is a little wet out," noted St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. "I think I have soaked through my shoes."

Of course, there was the traditional head of the parade featuring the St. Paul Police Band and the stirring swirls of the Brian Boru bagpipe band.

The eclectic line of march included groups identified by their family banners, such as the O'Keefe's and the Callahan's. In a touch of class, or perhaps missing class, St. Thomas Academy sent their uniformed drill team. The St. Paul Bouncing team made an appearance along the route, careful not to launch anyone while under the spectator-packed skyways.

So did a sugar-high's worth of candy, tossed toward the thousands of children, much of which fell into the muck along the street. However, nothing could dampen the festive mood of marchers as they made their way to Rice Park.

They passed the tent on the lawn of the Saint Paul Hotel, which offered Guinness beer, Bailey's Irish Crème and coffee and Jameson's Irish Whiskey, along with Reuben "sliders."

Green with envy, Minneapolis staged its own parade in the early evening along Nicollet Mall.

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