The streets of Pittsburgh will be a sea of green on March 17, when the 2018 Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade brings smiles to the Irish, and those who are Irish just for the day.
While parade goers will be wearing the green, their hearts will be filled with black and gold, as this year's parade will be dedicated to late Steelers Chairman and former United States Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney. Members of the Rooney family and representatives from the Steelers' organization will participate in the parade, while his legacy will be celebrated.
"It is extremely rare that we dedicate the entire parade to one individual," said Mac McCafferty, Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade Chairman. "But last year when we got the news of Mr. Rooney's passing, our former Parade Chairman Pat O'Brien made the suggestion that we dedicate this year's parade to the former ambassador, which received immediate and unanimous support from everyone involved with the parade."
Rooney's loves in life were simple and straight forward – family, faith, Steelers football and his beloved Ireland, a place he visited well before becoming Ambassador, always embracing the Irish roots of the Rooney family.
Rooney, along with Pittsburgh businessman Anthony J.F. O'Reilly, created The Ireland Fund, which later merged with the American Irish Foundation (AIF) to create the American Ireland Fund, the leading charitable organization benefiting Ireland.
Rooney was a driving force in the success the AIF has seen over the years, helping with the American Ireland Fund's mission of promoting programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout Ireland.
On March 17, 2009, Rooney was nominated by President Barack Obama to become the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, a position he served with pride until December 2012.
"On behalf of the Rooney Family, we are honored that this year's parade is being dedicated to our father, Dan Rooney," said his son Jim Rooney. "My father always loved the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. In the 1950s, he was involved in the planning of the parade and marched in it every year back then. Throughout his life, he was very proud of his Irish heritage, from his beginnings on the North Side to his role as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. No matter what the task, his Irish heritage was a proud staple in everything that he did. The City of Pittsburgh held a special place in his heart, and he truly enjoyed how our entire city turns Irish on parade day."