By Mike Dougherty and Anita Oh

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands braved the bitter cold Sunday to be part of one of Philadelphia’s oldest cultural heritage celebrations, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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There were Irish mummers, Irish dancers, schools, and bands.

Dating back to 1771, it is one of the country’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day parades — and the freezing temperatures didn’t keep people from enjoying the tradition.  The Gallagher family from South Philadelphia has been marching every year since 1981.

“My grandfather started at St. Monica’s parish, also in South Philadelphia, and we’ve just kept it rolling.”

This year’s theme is Saint Patrick: Guide and protect our police officers.

The parade’s president, Bill Ivers, says preparation for the parade began six months ago.

“With everything going on around the country with police officers over the last year or so, we thought it was appropriate to honor police this year because of shootings and things that happen,” said Ivers. “We thought it was the best thing to do was honor the police officers of the City of Philadelphia.”

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Police Commissioner Richard Ross was marching.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Ross said. “First of all, people celebrating their Irish heritage is a beautiful thing. We always support that.”

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And this year, after nearly two decades of marching down the Ben Franklin Parkway, Philly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade had a new route.

The parade route started at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard and ended at Penn’s Landing.


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