HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) — All eyes were smiling in Holyoke on Sunday for the 70th Annual Holyoke St Patrick’s Parade.

The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade is more than a celebration of Irish heritage, it’s a celebration of community and family.

“This is something we look forward to every year, coming to the parade as a family. We love to celebrate it, whether it’s snowing, cold, raining, we’re here every year,” expressed Lisa Lacosse a parade goer from Chicopee.

Parade goers also see the parade not only as a celebration of Irish culture, but also as a moment in time when many cultures can come together.

Taunton resident Taj Joseph said, “You see lots of ethnicities and just people bonding over the same experience. It’s pretty cool to see.”

“We always just welcome everybody, regardless if they are family or not. Everyone is family here today,” expressed Alyssia Zinn of South Hadley.

And these families came prepared to have fun, with blankets and tents for warmth, grills and coolers of food. They stood lining the parade route anxiously awaiting to see some of their annual favorites including: the floats, the traditional Irish dancers, the first responders, the marching bands, and of course the Shriners.

And in a stroke of Irish luck this year’s 70th annual parade coincided with the 70th anniversary of WWLP! 22News aired the parade all day Sunday with anchors Rich Tettemer and Taylor Knight, while the rest of the 22News team marched along the route. The parade was a culmination of a weekend full of celebrations.

Holyoke residents took time to appreciate the heritage and the celebration. Kiely Rigali said, “The energy is so amazing, the Irish culture is so beautiful, it’s just a celebration. It’s so wonderful.”

Another Holyoke resident, Mike Sullivan has been to 69 of the 70 Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parades, “It’s always a good time, and that’s something that hasn’t changed over the years.”

But what’s new this year? Two well known dignitaries participated in the parade; Claire Cronin, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and Irish government official Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who is the highest ranking sitting official ever to march in the parade.

“Everybody was having a great time, we’ve had so many people on the streets. Families are cheering, all bundled up and they have their snacks, they are ready to go. They have so much fun! It is a homecoming weekend,” expressed Grand Marshall Jane Coughlin Chevalier.

The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade, a true homecoming for all of western Massachusetts, and lots of happy yet slightly wind burned faces out there who had a wonderful time with friends and family.