Thousands brave cold for Berlin parade

Almost 3,000 turned out in near-zero temperatures for St Patrick’s Day celebrations

Dancers from the Tap Connection dance school performing in Berlin today. Photograph: Derek Scally

Dancers from the Tap Connection dance school performing in Berlin today. Photograph: Derek Scally

Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 17:45

The Irish stopped traffic today in Berlin.

Nearly 3,000 Irish and hangers-on braved near-zero temperatures in the alternative Kreuzberg neighbourhood for the equally alternative third annual Berlin parade.

A bagpipe troop, Irish dancers from the Tap Connection school and a St Patrick-carnival snake-combo led the parade. By its end, a double blast of Dirty Old Town and Beautiful Day finally brought out the sun and Kreuzberg locals -- Germans, Turks and hipsters alike -- warmed themselves in a green Irish glow.

“Excuse me, but what day is today,” asked a solemn little girl on Kreuzberg’s Wiener Strasse. Hearing it was St Patrick’s Day, she announced: “They’re all so happy. Come on, mammy, let’s celebrate with them.”

Many Irish paraders were amazed so many compatriots had turned out.

“Berlin’s a city of individuals and the Irish here are no different,” said Annette Duffy from Coolock in Dublin, who came to Berlin as a student in 1989 and is still here with her family. “The main thing is to get out and enjoy the day, in spite of the rugby result.”

Others said they hoped donning the green would help banish economic blues.

“Considering many people are having not such an easy time it’s great to see people getting together and having a nice day,” said Robbie Noonan, a 30-year-old Stepaside native in a green glittery facepaint.

Dianne Teubel, originally from Grange, Co Sligo and now living outside Berlin, had an inventive costume that combed a leprechaun hat with a tri-coloured mask.

“No matter how hard things are, hang in there and hope things get better,” she said.

Siobhan O’Donovan from Tipperary town, now living in Leipzig, was in Berlin for the day with her two daughters, Hannah and Laura and visiting mother, Joan.

“So many Germans love to celebrate Ireland and have a good time with them,” she said. “They come over and keep coming back, they can’t get enough.”

Shivering in the two degree cold, two Yorkshire terriers Mitzy and Pookie took little pleasure in being the centre of attention in leprechaun outfits.

“I just threw something together on Friday, everyone seems to love it,” said owner Bobbie Capewell from Nottinghamshire, who has a sister in Ireland.

Down south some 5,000 people paraded through Munich where, in Ireland’s honour, the Allianz arena - home to Bayern Munich - glowed an unearthly green.

Back in Berlin, the equally futuristic television tower got its annual green bath.

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