NEWS
03/17/2016 11:38 EDT | Updated 03/18/2017 01:12 EDT

The Latest: St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off in New York

NEW YORK — The Latest on New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade has stepped off under blue skies and with hopes of ending a long-running dispute over gay marchers.

The parade up Fifth Avenue is the nation's oldest and largest celebration of Irish heritage.

After allowing one gay group for the first time last year, organizers have opened the lineup more widely to include activists who protested the parade's decadeslong ban on displays of gay pride.

Thursday's parade also honours the centennial of Ireland's Easter Rising against British rule.

Elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio are joining bagpipers and high school marching bands at the parade.

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9 a.m.

New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade will begin with hopes of closing a long chapter of controversy over including gays in the largest and oldest U.S. celebration of Irish heritage.

After allowing one gay group for the first time last year, organizers have opened the lineup more widely to include activists who protested the parade's decades-long ban on displays of gay pride.

Thursday's parade also honours the centennial of Ireland's Easter Rising against British rule.

Parade board chairman John Lahey has said organizers aim to invoke what he calls "the lessons of sacrifice and heroism, of love and tolerance, embodied in the Irish spirit."

Until last year, organizers said gay people could participate but couldn't carry signs or buttons celebrating their sexual identities.

The Associated Press