St. Patrick’s Day is a day set aside to celebrate the works of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The late fourth/early fifth century missionary that brought Christianity to the emerald isle is one of the most well-known and popular saints around the world. According to the Roman Catholic Saints Day Calendar, St. Patrick’s feast day is always celebrated on March 17.
Although St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide, it has become a particularly popular holiday in America. Yes, a holiday. Its religious significance is not as much of a focus as it used to be, with many celebrations emphasizing Irish tradition, culture, and heritage. In fact, the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America took place in our very own Boston, Mass. in 1737. Since then, many cities have hosted St. Patrick’s Day parades, and often vie for biggest and best.
Just for St. Patrick’s Day, TheCelebrityCafe.com has compiled a list of some of the oldest and biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in America. There are a few that have grown in prominence, but just didn’t make the cut. Those locations are listed here as honorable mentions: San Francisco, Calif.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Dallas, Texas; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Hot Springs, Ark.
Image courtesy of INFGoff.com
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Started in 1771, the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade is always held the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. Although, it is sometimes held on March 10 if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday itself. The St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association began hosting the parade in 1952. The parade begins at 16th Street and JFK Boulevardd and follows Kelly Dr to Lemon Hill, and boasts an annual attendance of approximately 100,000 viewers. For more information, visit their site at www.philadelphiastpatsparade.com.
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Scranton has bragging rights to the size of their parade, if you measure attendance by the population of the city (as long as the population is over 50,000). By that measure, their approximate 150,000 attendees rank it in the top three, along with Savannah, Ga. and New York City, N.Y.
First held in 1962, the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day parade is held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, beginning on Wyoming Avenue at St. Peter’s Cathedral and ending at Washington Avenue. For more information, visit their site at www.stpatparade.com.
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Following a route that circles through the center of Denver, this St. Patrick’s Day parade that was founded in 1962 attracts over 200,000 spectators yearly. Held on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, the Denver St. Patrick’s Day parade is the largest west of the Mississippi River. For more information, visit www.denver.org.
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Kansas City, Mo.
Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, at least since 1973, Kansas City holds their St. Patrick’s Day parade to the tune of approximately 200,000 viewers. It begins at Linwood and 33rd Street and goes south to 43rd Street. For more information, visit their site kcirishparade.com.
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New Haven, Conn.
In 1842, New Haven hosted its first St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is now held annually the Saturday preceding St. Patrick’s Day, and attracts about half a million people or more. The parade travels from Chapel Street at Sherman Avenue to Grove Street at Orange Street. For more information, visit their site stpatricksdayparade.org.
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Cleveland celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a parade held every March 17. Their first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred in 1867. It now hosts approximately 500,000 visitors yearly. Starting at East 18th and Superior Avenue, this parade travels to East Third and Rockwell Avenue. For more information, visit their site at www.stpatricksdaycleveland.com.
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St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Savannah with both a parade and the dying of the Savannah River. The parade is held annually on St. Patrick’s Day, unless it falls on a Sunday. In that case, the parade is held the Saturday before.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade to be held in Savannah was in 1824. The parade travels through the historic district of Savannah, and travels along Bay Street, which sits above the famous River Street; famous for its bars, restaurants, and sweet shops. There, some of the 800,000 spectators can see the green-dyed river. For more information, visit their site at savannahsaintpatricksday.com.
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The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade, held annually, always on a Saturday, is where the dying of water green all began. The history of this popular activity is explained by The Atlantic, where it is also noted that First Lady Michelle Obama has had the water fountains on the White House lawns dyed green as well.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago was held in 1843. Now, the city hosts over one million visitors each year. They line the streets of Columbus Drive from Balboa, and north through Grant Park. For more information, visit their site at www.chicagostpatsparade.com.
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Around a million people gather in South Boston every year for the “Southie” St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is always held the Sunday closest to March 17. Although the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration occurred in 1737, it wasn’t until 1901 that the modern parade was started, and is run by the Allied War Veterans Council.
The parade has two routes. One is for walkers, starting at the Broadway T station and following along Broadway to Farragut Road. The other is for vehicles, which begin at Gillette Park and travel via A street to Farragut Road. For more information, visit their site at www.southbostonparade.org, where you can find a list of official parade pubs and bars, and more.
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New York City, N.Y.
The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country, averaging two million spectators, is held every year on March 17 in New York City. This parade is for walking, dancing, and marching only. There are no cars or floats incorporated. It begins at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue. Marching up Fifth Avenue, the parade continues all the way to 79th Street. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade hosted by New York City was held in 1762. For more information, visit their site at www.nycstpatricksparade.org.