Iraq's Saint Patrick's Day Parade beats the odds


As parades went, it was the most unusual in American military history.

The river Tigris did not run green, but several hundred US troops turned out last year for a Baghdad Saint Patrick's Day parade.

There are plan to march again this year, but for security reasons, of course, nobody is saying exactly when.

Last year, 1st Sergeant Scott McWilliams, a native of Chicago's South Side, was the instigator and he got the Army's permission.

"They don't have too many Irish out here," he told AFP press, "although there are a few."

The parade took place, where else, in the Green Zone -- and while there was no Guinness, there was plenty of Irish songs and laughter.

Participants clad in mock-Irish green performed two laps of the Green Zone , handing out green trinkets and other paraphernalia to loud applause.

Chicago parade organizers had sent the Irish trinkets and flags to them.

"I think it's a great day, a little time-out. It's about camaraderie, a touch of home here in Iraq, a little bit of America," said one soldier.

Air Force Major Aaron Judge drank a fizzy green liquid from a plastic glass.

"I'm dreaming of other things. It's green near-beer," he grinned. "This takes off the stress -- it's a lot of fun."

Local Iraqis were bemused.

"I don't know what is happening," admitted 26-year-old Khalid Walid Ali, who worked as a storage man.