Green was the color of the day in Midtown Monday as the 253rd annual St. Patrick's Day Parade made its way up Fifth Avenue.
While organizers say about two million spectators take part, the crowds appeared to be noticeably thinner than years past, likely due to the cold temperatures.
"It's a little cold but, you know, it's still lovely. I'm here with my friend. I like it," said one parade goer.
"It's freezing. This is my first time here on St. Patrick's day. I'm keeping myself warm and everything is great I like the excitement," noted another parade goer.
Some prominent city officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito did not march in the parade.
They boycotted the parade because of rules that prevent gay and lesbian groups from identifying themselves while marching.
While not taking part in the parade, the mayor celebrated Irish culture at the annual breakfast held at Gracie Mansion.
Delivering a speech, de Blasio discussed the importance of the Irish community in New York.
"I want you to know we have to celebrate here in the people's house because the people of this city, the history of this city has been so strengthened and so elevated by the presence of Irish Americans now over centuries. One of the truly foundational communities of the city, of everything that we know the city to be, is the Irish American community," De Blasio said.
Ireland's prime minister Enda Kenney did march, but appeared to acknowledge the controversy at Gracie Mansion.
"Rest assured the Irish community here in New York City will work with you on the interests of the development of the economy of this city, the facilities if this city, and the rights of people in this city," Kenney said.
A small group of demonstrators also lined the route Monday, protesting The Ancient Order of Hibernians' stance on barring gays from marching under their own banner.
While they praised beer company Guinness and other sponsors for pulling out of the parade they blasted Commissioner William Bratton for not following Mayor de Blasio's lead in boycotting the event.
"Bill Bratton comes to New York and what does he say? He says drop dead to the LGBT community," said one protester.
"The fact that the NYPD and other city groups march in their uniforms is like the city putting their stamp of approval on the parade," said another protester.
As far as the corporate sponsorship goes the Catholic League is calling for a boycott of beer manufactures Guinness and Heineken.
League President Bill Donohue says the companies do not believe in diversity adding in a statement, "The parade is quintessentially Catholic, beginning with a Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral. It is this Catholic element that angers those who are engaged in a bullying campaign against the St. Patrick's Day parades."