For over 250 years Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, has inspired an awesome number of people to show pride in their Irish heritage by participating in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. By early morning, eager children and adults alike don their green and line the streets to get a glimpse of their favorite parade. From bagpipes to marching bands, traditional Irish dance to Kelly green fire trucks, from Irish Wolfhounds and Irish Setters to green beads thrown from colorful floats, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade offers something for everyone.
Originally of British lineage, Saint Patrick was captured at age sixteen and sold as a slave in Ireland. He turned to Christianity during his six years of captivity. He escaped, and later returned to Ireland as a Christian Missionary. Legend has it the Saint Patrick wore a green shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity to the non-Christian Irish people and thus the tradition of wearing green was born.
Saint Patrick’s Day has long since been observed in Ireland as a religious holiday. Dublin, Ireland recently began celebrating a St. Patrick’s Day Festival which lasts five days and includes traditional Irish theatre, music, dance, and fireworks and concludes on their national holiday, March 17th, with a spectacular St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, hundreds of St. Patrick’s Day Parades are held in honor of Saint Patrick throughout the world in cities such as London, Quebec, Sydney, and Tokyo.
New York City is home to the first official Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the world, when in 1762, a group of Irish Soldiers marched to celebrate their Irish roots. New York City also boasts the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade which has over 150,000 participants, and covers over one and a half miles. Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia (the second oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade) and Savannah also host large St. Patrick’s Day Parades, each attracting between 10,000 and 20,000 participants. In a brilliant show of Irish pride, the Chicago Journeyman plumbers have been dying the Chicago River green during their St. Patrick’s Day Parade for over forty years.
St. Patrick’s Day Parades all over the world allow those of Irish ancestry to celebrate their family roots by participating in time-honored Irish traditions. Whether a direct descendent from a clan in County Cork, or one who has traced his genealogy to County Mayo, or just one who enjoys the Irish jig, all are welcome to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. After all, every one is at least a wee bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
A Sampling of 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parades around the nation:
South Boston, Sunday, March 16, 2014, 1:00 p.m.
Chicago IL, Saturday, March 15, 2014, 12:00 p.m.
New York City, Monday, March 17, 2014, 11:00 a.m.
Philadelphia, PA, Sunday, March 16, 2014, 11:00 a.m.
Pittsburgh, PA, Saturday March 15, 2014 10:00 a.m.
Savannah GA, Monday March 17, 2014 10:15a.m.
Baltimore, MD, Sunday, March 16, 2014, 2:00 p.m.