Thousand attend annual Irish festival in North Wildwood, New Jersey

NORTH WILDWOOD, NJ (WPVI) — Thousands of people flocked to the Jersey shore on Saturday for an annual festival bringing the flavors of Ireland to North Wildwood.

The annual Irish Festival featured concerts, Irish tap dancing, traditional food and plenty of green drinks.

“This is halfway through St. Patrick’s Day, so the festival is at this time of year and it’s a nice way to get together in the warm weather,” said Joshua Nytch, a bagpiper who will be attending the festival with his group from New York celebrations had arrived.

“I just love how the community comes together, everyone comes out to support Irish heritage and they love to hear the bagpipes and I love that the whole community is coming out for the common cause,” he said .

Still, the busy shore weekend brought challenges for first responders.

“It just matters that we’re here and keeping people safe,” said Mark Strange, a supervisor with the North Wildwood Beach Patrol.

Although Hurricane Fiona did not hit Wildwood’s beaches, it did result in dangerous conditions, including currents. Because lifeguards are not on the beach, patrols asked beachgoers to stay on the sand.

“If you can stay out of the water, it’s not beach weather at all, westerly winds are still coming, so currents will be active,” Strange said.

Meanwhile, police called in additional patrols for both the festival and unauthorized pop-up car parties, known as H2Oi events, in car parks. Officers circled the Acme parking lot to deter reckless driving.

Despite the obstacles, thousands of people enjoyed the festival. For those who celebrate every year, it can be a reunion.

“I see everyone I haven’t seen in a while. Philadelphia has people coming from all neighborhoods,” said Eileen Cooper, a store clerk.

There’s still time to join in the fun of the Irish weekend. The festival concludes with a parade through North Wildwood on Sunday.

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