Saint Patrick was a religious figure in Ireland around the 5th Century. There have been discussions and arguments over the years about whether he was really Irish. Some say he was British, Scottish or Welsh; or, perish the thought, maybe even Italian. His origin doesn’t matter, so much as his devotion to Ireland and its people. That is what has made him the patron saint and symbol of Ireland for centuries.
Corned beef and cabbage is the traditional food of the holiday, here in North America. (You knew I would be getting food in here, didn’t you?) The traditional Irish food was more like a bacon-type product. Some theories are that the use of corned beef was more economical rather than traditional. Poor immigrants used it because it was cheaper and more available in the lower east side of New York a few centuries ago than the bacon product. Whatever the reason, I remember as a kid my mother always getting excited about being able to get corned beef and cabbage because it was Saint Patrick’s Day. I won’t disappoint her, telling her what they actually serve in Ireland was not corned beef at all.
And while in Ireland it was celebrated as a quiet, religious holiday for centuries, what we celebrate is vastly different from that tradition. However, I do not want to make it sound like we corrupted the holiday. My theory is that what happened was the same thing that happened to all the other European religious holidays when the immigrants came to North America. Longing for the traditions and customs of their homeland, immigrants started processions of patron saints which evolved into parades which evolved into celebrations which lovingly and longingly evolved into parties celebrating cultural pride. It was and is a way to hang on to a vanishing ethnic connection. And, although it is removed from the solemnity of religion, it is no less respectful of a people and culture.
This week, we spotlight some of the very best Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations taking place in the United States. I am sure that somewhere near you there are parades, parties and even corned beef and cabbage specials at some of your local restaurants. Show some allegiance with your Irish friends and neighbors by visiting a Saint Patrick’s Day event and wear some green this week to celebrate another culture in the melting pot that is America.
Mar 15, 2014
Balboa Park San Diego, CA 92101
Since 1982, a very traditional Irish festival and parade. Music, marching bands, Irish food and dancing and much more. With over 120 entries, includes Marching Bands, Floats, Police and Fire Department units, the Emerald Societies, Clowns, equestrian entries, Border Patrol units, Scout Troops, bagpipe contingents, dancing groups, drill teams, roller skaters, antique cars, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, representatives from Ireland, and the reigning Miss Colleen and Smiling Irishman. Parade begins at 6th and Juniper Streets at the park
Mar 17, 2014
Downtown Kansas City, MO 64112
Since 1973. One of America’s largest St. Patrick’s day parade fills the streets of downtown. The largest one day event in Kasas City all year. Midtown starting at Linwood and Broadway and proceeding south along Broadway to 43rd Street. The area around Redemptorist Catholic Church where the Parade starts was traditionally called Kerry Patch in the 1800s after the large Irish immigrant population living there. Many of the stone buildings in the neighborhood were built by Irish with limestone quarried by Irish in the Penn Valley Park area.
Mar 15, 2014
Union Station Saint Louis, MO 63102
Since 1970, features a 5k run with over 13,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair racers of all ages welcome. There are 13 different age categories for both male and female competitive runners, ranging in age from under14 to 70-plus years. Prizes will be awarded in age categories for both men and women, including “14 and under” and “70 and over.” The parade follows stepping off at 18th and Market Streets and proceeds east on Market to Broadway and then south on Broadway where it will disband. Parade units will stage starting at 7:30 a.m. from Compton to 18th Street. The parade, also known as St. Louis’ “Rite of Spring,” will feature over 130 units, including floats, bands, marching units, large helium-filled balloons, and over 5,000 marchers. A Marine color guard from the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment based in St. Louis will lead the parade. In the past with good weather, more than 350,000 spectators have gathered along Market Street to watch the elaborate floats, marching bands, marching units, dance groups, animal units, novelty units, and motorized units. View the children’s favorites – giant cartoon character helium-filled balloons – from Aloe Plaza designated family friendly area.
Mar 16, 2014
Downtown Parkway Area Philadelphia, PA 19121
Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a long-standing event of great civic pride. The Annual Parade is held on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. If March 17th falls on a Sunday, the Parade Board has the option of having it on March 10th, since so many groups who march are already committed to other events. This Delaware Valley event is the largest Philadelphia Parade by number of participants, approximately 20,000. More than 150 groups are represented in the parade including: Marching bands, dance groups, youth groups and Irish associations. Thousands of spectators line the Parkway to enjoy the Parade each year. Irish Americans have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Philadelphia since their arrival in America. George Washington, a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, actively encouraged Irish American patriots to join his colonial army. Over the years, these celebrations reflected the times with several themes emerging;- religious, patriotism honoring military service, remembrance of the political struggles in Ireland and a celebration of Irish culture. The common theme remains honoring St. Patrick’s work.
Mar 15, 2014
Margaret G. Hance Park Phoenix, AZ 85004
Since 1984. Celebrate the culture and heritage of the Irish with tradtional foods and vendors selling Irish and Celtic merchandise and crafts, music and dancing, prizes, children’s activities and much more. The faire takes place immediately following the parade at the Irish Cultural Center in Margaret T. Hance Park.The fair includes live Irish music, vendors selling Irish items, food and three stages of entertainment.
Mar 14, 2014 – Mar 17, 2014
Downtown Rousakis Plaza Savannah, GA 31401
Since 1825, Honoring St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland. This is an Irish celebration and the second-largest in the country. One of the very best riverfront parties ever. Come out and have some fun with lost of good food and drink, dancing, sponsor booths, music and much more. Extended hours of service: 2:55 am closing for bars/restaurants (formerly 1am).
Mar 17, 2014
Dogtown Neighborhood Saint Louis, MO 63110
Since 1984. The Ancient Order of Hibernians Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, kicks off at 12:30 p.m. It starts at the Tamm Avenue overpass at Oakland Avenue and travels south on Tamm Avenue, past historic St. James the Greater Catholic Church ending at Manchester. The parade is held annually on the saint’s feast day, honors Irish heritage, culture and faith and highlights the many contributions of the Irish people to America. There are over 100 units in this year’s parade and many St. Louis Irish will be marching as clans under their family crests and banners. The 2014 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade’s Grand Marshal is cartoonist Mike Peters, who grew up in St. Louis’s Dogtown neighborhood. Peters draws the long-running comic strip Mother Goose and Grimm, that appears daily in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Mar 17, 2014
Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10028
Since 1762. The New York City St Patrick’s Parade marched for the first time in 1762, fourteen years before the Declaration of Independence was signed in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. The Parade is regarded as the most popular of all the Parades in New York City, and honors Saint Patrick – the patron Saint of Archdiocese of New York and Ireland. The New York Parade consists only of marchers and each year hosts some 250,000 marchers and two million spectators. The Parade has many outstanding marching bands from throughout the United States and from all over the world. The Parade is the world’s oldest and largest civic parade and celebrates “The Faith of Ireland, Irish heritage and Culture.
Mar 15, 2014
Crowne Plaza Dublin, OH 43017
It’s the Luck of the Irish…St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is one week earlier this year! Mark your calendars and plan to attend the “Greenest, Grandest Parade.” As always, Dublin’s parade steps off at 11am from Metro Center and travels through Historic Dublin. And, before the parade, enjoy the Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast at Sells Middle School and attend the Inflation Celebration in the Crowne Plaza Hotel parking lot. Watch as giant helium character balloons are inflated and small balloons are twisted into hats and even your favorite animals. Complimentary refreshments will be served.
Mar 16, 2014
South Boston Neighborhood Boston, MA 02101
Since 1900, The South Boston, St. Patrick’s Parade is Listed as the second largest parade in the country, being viewed by nearly 600,000 to one million people every year; in addition to having the entire parade seen on Live TV.
Mar 15, 2014 – Mar 16, 2014
Downtown at Riverwalk San Antonio, TX 78205
Come watch this exciting parade along the 2.5 mile Riverwalk. Barges of entertainment and the dyeing of the river green. Floats release 35 pounds of environmentally friendly green dye into the San Antonio River. The event transforms the 2.5 mile river into a miniature Emerald Isle where a proclamation is read, temporarily re-naming the river “The River Shannon”.
Mar 15, 2014
Lower Downtown Denver, CO 80205
Since 1963. A very traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade where they will be wearin’ the green. The Mile High City is home to one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parades in the nation with 10,000 marchers, more than 240 entries, and nearly 250,000 spectators! On behalf of the hundreds of volunteers who work diligently year-round to bring this parade to the streets of lower downtown Denver, the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee is honored to invite you to join us.
Mar 17, 2014 – Mar 22, 2014
Downtown New London, WI 54961
Join us for Wisconsin’s largest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and an Irish Fest in downtown New London, Wisconsin. The legendary week of festivities begin when local Shamrock Club leprechauns change the town’s name to ‘New Dublin’. The Grand Parade typically has a full lineup of multiple bagpipe bands, marching bands, festive clowns, specialty units, clans, Finnegan’s Wake, and business floats–well over 100 units. Bring the whole family to watch this renown event! The New Dublin Irish Fest is a music festival held under a huge heated big top that each year features two dynamic Celtic bands. There are beverages, Irish food, and market booths. The 2012 bands are Green Tea and Sheamus Fitzpatrick and the McNally Boys.
Mar 15, 2014
Columbus Drive Chicago, IL 60604
Start the day’s festivities with mass at Old St. Patrick’s Church at 9 a.m. Then listen to the wailing of the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band and watch the Chicago River turn green. The parade begins at noon starting from Balbo and Columbus.
Mar 15, 2014
Center City Charlotte Charlotte, NC 28202
The Charlotte Goes Green celebration will follow the longtime Charlotte tradition, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The festival features live music, Irish dancers, pipe bands, drum bands, Irish vendors, amusements for children of all ages, lots of food and drink and more.
Mar 15, 2014
Civic Center Plaza San Francisco, CA 94102
Since 1851, The addition of the Festival after the parade provides a great opportunity for attendees to learn more about Irish history and culture while having fun experiencing the day. A full day of activity is planned for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival. The colorful festivities surrounding the parade will showcase Irish Culture through live performance and entertainment, arts and crafts exhibitors, and food and beverage concessions, children’s rides and inflatables, cultural displays, a petting zoo and pony ride and a number of non-profits booths representing the Irish community. Parade leaves at 2nd and Market and proceeds to the Civic Center.
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