Thousands of people flooded Massachusetts Street for the longest St. Patrick's Day Parade in 20 years.
The parade began sharply at 1 p.m. when a KC-135 made a low-altitude flyover above Massachusetts Street.
"If that doesn't give you chills, nothing does," parade co-chairman Gene Shaughnessy said.
Organizers had to get special permission from the Pentagon for the military aircraft from the 190th Air Refueling Wing in Topeka to fly over.
Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Co. chief executive officer, served as the parade's grand marshal.
"I was just honored to be asked to participate," he said.
Wearing a black Ford Racing jacket draped with a sash bearing the colors of the Irish flag and adorned with a yellow rose boutonniere, Mulally sat in the back of a shiny red Ford convertible with his mother and waved to paradegoers.
"This is my home, it's where I had my first paper route ... my own lawn mowing business, worked at Dillons, went to all the schools and KU," Mulally said. "To get a chance to come back for such a fun day is great."
"I'm so glad that he took time out of his busy schedule to come down and help us," said his mother, Lauraine Mulally, of Lawrence. "It's a great day."
As they traveled north down the parade route, paradegoers screamed and hollered. Some even blew kisses at them.
"Everybody wants to wave to me, so I wave back," said Lauraine Mulally, a former parade queen, who has participated in the parade for the past 16 years.
Organizers said they were pleased with the record 148 floats in the parade.
"It's awesome," said Steve Cummings, parade co-chairman.
Entries included everything from bands to Boy Scout troops, even antique lawn tractors capable of making wheelies.
People began lining the streets two hours before the parade started. Most were appropriately dressed in green garb.
With the edges of the street packed with people, others stood on building roofs and peered out second-story windows to get a bird's-eye view.
Patrons flooded out of downtown bars, many trying to get a peek at the parade from outdoor patios.
After the parade, awards for the best floats were announced. Here are some of the winners:
¢ Commercial division: Pet World, first place; Berry Plastics, second place; Music Club House, third place.
¢ Family division: Jayhawk Model Makers RC Club, first place; Curtiss Clan, second place; WRAP Program at Bert Nash CMHC, third place.