When Paula Jones started organizing the St. Patrick's Day parade 27 years ago, there were only about 20 entries and a couple dozen observers.
On Saturday, Jones — now the parade's director — wrapped up her final year of participating in the event with a smile of satisfaction.
More than 80 entries of dancers, pipers, beauty queens and decorated animals of all kinds filtered through downtown Oklahoma City and Bricktown, while about 20,000 people watched and clapped from the sidewalks.
Jones attributed the parade's growth to hard work and a little Irish luck.
“Ten or 12 people sit in my living room and plan it, and it's gotten so big, but nobody knows about it because we don't have any money to advertise.”
With the temperature at roughly 80 degrees, Saturday was likely the warmest day of the year so far.
A green clown — too tall to be a leprechaun — tricked children with a pot of gold attached to an elastic string. Local law enforcement and firefighters frequently blared their sirens. The deafening drone of bagpipes halted conversation as the sound bounced off Devon Tower and echoed down the street.
Bob Lambert and his wife, Irene, watched from their spot across the street from the tower. Their two dogs, Sprite and Moxie, were wearing green bow ties around their necks.
“It's a good mixture of the religious aspect of it, and it brings the community together,” Bob Lambert said.
“It just opens spring. We've been hibernating all winter and it's time to get out now.”
Callan Cunningham, 4, pointed eagerly at the approaching pipers in the shadow of the Chesapeake Energy Arena while his parents watched from Oklahoma State University lawn chairs.
“Look what's coming, a whole parade!” Callan said while his parents laughed.
Callan's eyes got bigger when he spotted the group that followed — Scottish terriers dressed in green, their handlers tossing candy into the crowd.
“Yeah, baby!” he said.
But just down the block, Emma Holland, 3, was disappointed she didn't see her favorite “Patrick” — the starfish from SpongeBob SquarePants.
“I think the whole St. Patrick's Day thing might have gotten her distracted,” said Emma's mother, Amy Holland.
Jones said she and the other parade organizers will turn over the parade to the Bricktown Association next year, with the hopes it will continue to grow.
With as many as half a million Oklahomans claiming Irish descent, the parade is their chance for a little cultural awareness.
“I tell everybody that we claim almost every president all the way to the current one,” Jones said.
Wait ... the current one?
“Yep,” Jones said. “O'Bama.”