03/15/2012 08:33 am ET Updated May 15, 2012

St. Patrick's Day: Why I Love A Parade

We live on the park in New York where there seems to be a parade at least a few times
a month for every possible nationality there is. One of the biggest is St. Patrick's Day,
which of course thrills my husband. There's nobody named Donahue who doesn't
love a St. Patrick's Day parade. Phil and I marched in the parade one year, green beer
and all!

My brother and sister and I also marched in the Italian Parade to celebrate my mother's
side of our family. It was very lively and fun, just like my mother. In fact, all the parades
I've ever watched are joyful and exuberant celebrations and everyone who marches in
them is very, very proud of their heritage.

While many parades are celebrations of national heritage, others celebrate holidays like
the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which thrills kids of all ages and has become a
holiday tradition unto itself. Other parades have been inspired by a cause, like the Gay
Pride Parade that began as a social statement and went on to become one of the most
fun, colorful and outrageous parades of the year.

But regardless of the cause, the holiday or the nationality, it's the shared excitement
and sense of belonging that gives a parade its meaning and energy. It's the feeling that
we are a part of a larger whole, and that we can all celebrate one another. After all, you
don't have to be Irish to enjoy the St. Patrick's Day parade (I'm Italian and Lebanese!)
any more than you need to be gay to celebrate Pride.

A great parade is more than just a street party - it's an opportunity to come together and
connect with others in a traditional, fun and joyful way. And in a world where people are
increasingly divided by politics and isolated by technology, that's a good thing.

So, that's why I love a good parade, but it's not just the big ones that count! All around
the world, people have been coming together and starting parades in celebration of
some very unique and often hilarious themes. Take a look at our slideshow of some
of the most wacky, colorful and kooky parades taking place today. I had no idea these
were even out there!