St. Patrick’s Day parades are soon approaching, and with it signs of the end of winter. People are grabbing their kids and camp chairs and heading out in droves to historic parades around the U.S. But where are some of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day parades going to be this year?
Chicago: Saturday, March 12, 2011, 12:00 p.m.
You know St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in a city when the government allows a major waterway to be dyed green. This is exactly what happens at the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade. People head to Michigan Ave. and Wacker Dr. at the river a little before 10 a.m. to watch the dyeing. Afterwards everyone heads off to the parade route. This particular parade first started in 1843 and has since rapidly increased in popularity and attendance. Expect this year to be no less crowded than the past; get there early!
New York City: Thursday, March 17, 2011, 11:00 a.m.
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the longest-running annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. It’s said that Irish soldiers serving under Great Britain/Ireland’s King George III first organized the parade in 1762 as a way to show pride for Ireland and its culture. Today the parade ranks as the most attended parade in the United States and lasts for between five and six hours. People grab their camp chairs and stake an early claim along Fifth Street to witness the legions of military and emergency personnel, marching bands, and floats.
Savannah: Thursday, March 17, 2011, 10:15 a.m.
The origins of this St. Patrick’s Day parade lie with the Hibernian Society of Savannah, Georgia. Back in 1813, a group of Irish protestants came together to celebrate St. Patrick and Irish culture. In 1824 the Hibernian’s invited the public to attend the first public Irish Day Parade in Savannah. The parade has been an annual event since, drawing over 300,000 people to sit down and watch the floats and bands, and sing classic Irish songs.
South Boston: Sunday, March 20, 2011, 1:00 p.m.
In 1737, the Charitable Irish Society of Boston was founded on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s said that this group gave its thanks to St. Patrick, making it one of the first recorded honors to the Saint in the U.S. (Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t appear that a parade was also held that year.) Fast forward to today, a time when nearly 24 percent of Boston’s population is made up of Irish decent. From this it’s easy to see why Boston takes its St. Patrick’s Day parade seriously, making it the second-most popular Irish Day Parade in America. Rain or shine, people head outdoors to catch glimpses of bagpipers, horse-drawn carriages, and floats.
St. Louis: Saturday, March 12, 2011, 12:00 p.m.
The St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day Parade may not be as old or steeped in tradition as other parades in the U.S., but the folks in St. Louis know how to do it right. This is year 42 for the parade, which runs down historic Market Street. The morning of the parade, the thirty-third annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run will take place, pitting nearly 12,000 people against each other in a five-mile run through the heart of the city. Afterwards, hundreds of thousands of people will head outside to watch bands, balloons, and floats pass by, followed by tons of fun at the Irish Village.