A new, troublesome topic hovered over the St Patrick's Day parade in New York this year: Britain's failed Brexit deal with the European Union that could squeeze Ireland's economy.
But nothing could put a damper on the largest American celebration of Irish heritage on Saturday, with tens of thousands of marchers following a painted green line up Fifth Avenue for the six-hour procession.
Kevin Coughlan, a 27-year-old spectator wearing pants with four-leaf clovers, captured both the New York celebration and the political near-catastrophe overseas, where he still has plenty of family - in Ireland.
"I've always been so proud to be an Irish-American, and that's what today is about; it's more than just one big party, it's about celebrating our freedom," said the Hoboken, New Jersey, resident.
His mood darkened when he turned to Brexit, which "is definitely something we're all worried about, especially my family," he said. "I mean, we're all sort of just waiting for the shoe to drop to see what this means for the Irish economy."
But, he added, "We can get through anything; we survived a potato famine."
Through its history, dating back more than 250 years, the New York parade has often had a political element. In the 1970s and 1980s, as sectarian violence flared in Northern Ireland, there were controversies over the inclusion of groups supporting the militant wing of the Irish Republican Army. A banner reading "England get out of Ireland" has flown in the parade since the 1940s.
But for most at Saturday's parade, the political debate over the future in Ireland took a back seat to the pageantry.
"For me, today is so important because after all the suffering and all the tragedy, we came through. We're here and we're healthy," Carol McNiff said, a third generation Irish-American.
Over in Chicago, the river there was dyed green, a tradition that dates back decades. Thousands line up to watch members of Chicago Plumbers Local 130 dump and spray the dye into the river from boats.
Australian Associated Press