It was a sea of green on Ottawa streets today as the St. Patrick's Day parade made its way through downtown

It was -7 C when the parade began — -15 C with the wind chill — but the cool temperatures did not deter the enthusiasm of parade goers.

And while St Patricks day celebrations are renowned for being boisterous affairs, those kicking off the St. Pat's weekend said there's a lot more to the festivities than just a party.

I think everyone likes to come out and feel the community and be involved with each other," said Laura Evans. "Put a smile on and wave at a stranger, it's a good time.

Volunteers like Ottawa police Cst. Stephen Carroll say it's a fun way to collect donations, give back to the community and share in the culture of the Irish, whether one's roots are connected to The Emerald Isle, or not.

"I think enough people don't celebrate their culture and their heritage," said Carroll. "Everyone's culture in general. This is Canada and they should come out and celebrate everyone's culture and heritage that all Canadians have."

For Karen Moriarty, this year's parade held special significance. Moriarty, whose landscaping business has had a float in the parade for eight years, recently lost a close friend and dependable St. Patrick's Day parade float companion.

"She's no longer with us, well, actually she is with us. We brought her with us today," said Moriarty. "Her urn is in the front with her flag ... we'll have our final party with her and then we'll be spreading her ashes." 

Morris's daughter Sharyn Morris says celebrating family and friends is what the day is all about.

"It's more than just the green beer," she said. "It's family, love and celebration. It's really what it is."