St Patrick's Day parade: Crowds line Birmingham streets

St Patrick's Parade in Birmingham "I've been to every single one of these and I'm 86 now. I've seen snow and more often than not rain, but today is a scorcher," said spectator John Oulaghan

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More than 85,000 people turned out for Birmingham's St Patrick's Day parade, the city council said.

There was an Irish sporting theme to celebrate the 2012 Olympics and the council said the event was helped by "fantastic weather".

The procession, which included floats, pipe bands and dancers, made its way through the Digbeth area.

The floats were joined by a fleet of about 50 motorcyclists, several fire engines and vintage tractors.

St Patrick's Parade in Birmingham Traditional Irish singers competed with pipes and drum to entertain the crowds

Bill Timbrell, a dustman of Irish ancestry from West Heath, Birmingham, said: "This is the first time I have come down but I've been meaning to come for years.

"There's a great atmosphere and we've got terrific weather for it."

The parade is part of the wider St Patrick's festival in Birmingham, which started on Friday.

Katherine Foy, a member of the organising board for the St Patrick's Day Festival, said: "We're having an Olympic theme this year so it's a catalyst for Birmingham to get really excited about London 2012."

Describing the event as "one of the biggest street parades in the UK", Ms Foy said: "There's so many people that help organise it, it's quite amazing."

'Feel-good factor'

She added that the event had also received support from the Irish government, fundraisers and sponsorship.

"It is tough times for businesses but I have to say it is a very feel-good factor for the community and they're investing in that as well."

St Patrick's Parade in Birmingham The event brought people from different communities together

Another member of the organising team, Anne Tighe, said there was lots of enthusiasm from the community for the festival.

She said this year there may not be as many people travelling to the festival from Ireland because of the economic situation there.

Mrs Tighe, who helps at the charity, Irish in Birmingham, said they were seeing more people come to Birmingham in search of work.

Trudy McGroarty, activity co-ordinator for the organisation, said: "We thought once upon a time a lot of the young ones would be going to Australia, America, places like that but they're opting to come here.

"We're always here to give them any kind of help."

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