One of the biggest Irish celebrations in the country is kicking off 41 years right here in Kansas City.
And one DeSoto family has seen the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade transform through the years.
The O'Connor family hasn't missed the parade for the past 36 years. The celebration is so significant they plan for it months in advance.
Mike O'Connor built his first float in 1977 when the parade was only in its fifth year.
"We do it for the family and the fun," O'Connor said.
But as the years went on and family grew up, O'Connor said, building the family float became more complicated.
"The parade got more complicated, a little bigger, and I ended up building a float by myself, so I retired," he said.
O'Connor took a hiatus from the floats but never missed watching the parade. It wasn't until his grandchildren were born that he revived the ritual.
Now, four generations plan the float starting in January.
"Once we get the theme, then we start having family meetings and discussing what are we going to build that will go with this theme," O'Connor said.
For O'Connor, it is serious business.
"We're a little bit competitive," he said.
Over the years, they've scored top honors for their designs, winning the grand prize twice and receiving the Mike Murphy showmanship award a few years ago.
Win or lose, it all comes down to family, O'Connor says.
"To me the excitement level is the grand kids. They just absolutely love this day, and to see how excited they get when St. Patrick's day rolls around is something to see. Our family is what all the excitement is about," he said.
It is an exciting tradition the O'Connors don't want to shut out again.
The parade starts at 11 a.m. Sunday and runs on Broadway starting at Linwood to 43rd Street.
It should be about two hours long, and event coordinators advise arriving early to find parking and get situated.
This year the parade's theme is "Gathering of the Clans, And Irish Homecoming." Click here for more information the parade.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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