Buffalo's First Neighborhood Celebrates St. Patrick's Day

March 16, 2013 Updated Mar 16, 2013 at 6:51 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

March 16, 2013 Updated Mar 16, 2013 at 6:51 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Buffalo's oldest neighborhood showcases its Irish history in one of the biggest parties of the year.

The Old First Ward draws a crowd of five to ten thousand to its Saint Patrick's Day parade.

Buffalo's first neighborhood is seeing a resurgence -- and its rich heritage may be the key.

The Old First Ward is a historical place, not just for Buffalo's history books, but also for many of the families that came to the parade.

"This whole family was born down here," says Rose Judasz. "And there's a lot of people that are coming back into the ward, they're fixing up the houses."

Donna Carroll, who was born and raised in the area, says "You receive an invisible hug when you come down to the Old First Ward."

That's just what the parade celebrates -- the comradery of the area and a rich work ethic.

"It's an expression of the history of the Old First Ward," says Carroll, "and how the immigrants came here and we struggled to achieve success in our lives."

The Grain Elevators that helped put Buffalo on the map in the 19th century still sit along the waterfront.

Hundreds of years ago, they made the Queen City the world's largest grain port. Now, the buildings are abandoned.

Michael Hassett, who grew up in the Old First Ward, says "Once those jobs left it was harder for people to stick around, and I think that's why there was a change when people sort of moved out."

However, now people are moving back and fixing up homes.

The resurgence comes at the same time as a push to establish the area as a historical district.

The designation would help fund the restoration of homes and buildings, many which date back to the 18-hundreds.

"Somebody needs to tell the story to the rest of the world," Hassett says. "That's how Buffalo grew and that's how Buffalo started."

The parade was also a celebration for many families, that included birthday celebrations -- and even a proposal.