Utica, NY (WIBX) - A small group gathered at Utica's City Hall today for the raising of the Irish flag.

Those attending learned about the history of the flag, heard a speech by Grand Marshall Patrick Costello and were led to the raising site by bagpiper, Dan Murphy.

Costello and Mayor Robert Palmieri raised the flag after it was blessed by Father Ralph Fraats.

Palmieri says the spirit of Saint Patrick's Day brings out the Irish in everyone.

"Everybody wants to feel... they want to be Irish," Palmieri said. "It's just a good feeling day. It's one of the major parades. No matter where you are and any walk of life, you come to the parade. You may go on Varick Street, and you may go anyplace."

Costello agreed, saying the Irish are a well-represented group in the city of Utica.

"The Irish came with very little," Costello said. "They rose, they worked hard and they rose to positions of prominence in the area and have their mark on the history of Utica, that's for sure. They should be very proud and they are."

This year's Saint Patrick's Day Parade is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Oneida Square.

And, if you're heading to Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Utica, bring along a non-perishable food item.

Bernie Adorino is the President of Adorino Construction. which will be conducting its annual food drive at the parade.

"This is our fourth annual year.We provide support to collect canned goods along the parade route, and of course, monetary donations. Then, we turn everything over to Mother Marianne's Westside Soup Kitchen.

More than 700 pounds of food and about 900 dollars in cash was collected at last year's parade and Adorino says they're hoping to top that this year.

(Story is a collaboration by Gino Geruntino and Jim Rondenelli.)