In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated as a religious holiday. It became a public holiday in 1903, by the Money Bank. (Ireland) Act 1903, an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by the Irish MP James O'Mara. O'Mara later introduced the law which required that pubs be closed on 17 March, a provision which was repealed only in the 1970s. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931 and was reviewed by the then Minister of Defence Desmond Fitzgerald. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Church.
Irish Society of Boston organized what was the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies on 17 March 1737. The first celebration of Saint Patrick's Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1756 and New York's first Saint Patrick's Day Parade was held on 17 March 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army. In 1780, General George Washington, who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March ?as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence." This event became known as The St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780. Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike.
New Orleans, Louisiana, the parades include the influence of New Orleans Mardi Gras, with float riders throwing spectators strings of beads, cabbages, and potatoes.
Perhaps the smallest notable parade World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, is said to take place in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the United States annually held on historic Bridge Street which became famous in the 1940s when Ripley?s Believe It or Not designated it. The Shortest Street in the World Boulder, Colorado claims to have the shortest parade, which is also less than a single city block.
In the city of Syracuse, NY, Saint Patrick's celebrations are traditionally begun with the delivery of green beer to Coleman's Irish Pub on the first Sunday of March. Coleman's is located in the Tipperary Hill section of the city. Tipperary Hill is home to the World famous "Green-on-Top" Traffic Light and is historically the Irish section in Syracuse. Saint Patrick's Day is rung in at midnight with the painting of a Shamrock under the Green-Over-Red traffic light. Syracuse boasts the largest St. Patrick's day celebration per-capita in the United States with their annual Syracuse St. Patrick's Parade founded by Nancy Duffy, an honored journalist in the Central New York area and an active community leader. "The parade remains a major annual event, typically drawing an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 visitors to downtown Syracuse, as well as 5,000 to 6,000 marchers."
The New York parade has become the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. In a typical year, 150,000 marchers participate in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies, and social and cultural clubs, and 2 million spectators line the streets. The parade marches up 5th Avenue in Manhattan and is always led by the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment. New York politicians - or those running for office - are always found prominently marching in the parade. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch once proclaimed himself "Ed O'Koch" for the day, and he continues to don an Irish sweater and march every year up until 2003, even though he is no longer in office.
This Western Mass factory town was the site of massive Irish immigration in the 19th Century, and hosts a Parade its organizers claim is the second largest in the United States. It is scheduled on the Sunday following St. Patrick's Day each year. Attendance exceeds 300,000, with over 25,000 marchers, through a 2.3 mile route in this city of 40,000. A 10K road Race and many events create a remarkable festival weekend. Each year an Irish-American who has distinguished himself or herself in their chosen profession is awarded the John F. Kennedy National Award. JFK was a National Award Winner in the 1958 Holyoke Parade. Other winners include author Tom Clancy, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and actor Pat O'Brien
Due to the rich history of Scranton participation in St. Patrick's Day festivities it is one of the oldest and most populated parades in the United States. It has been going on annually since 1862 by the St. Patrick's Day Parade Association of Lackawanna County and the parade has gotten attention nationally as being one of the better St. Patrick's Day parades. The parade route begins on Wyoming Ave. and loops up to Penn Ave. and then Lackawanna Ave. before going back down over Jefferson Ave. to get to Washington Ave. Scranton hosts the third largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the United States. In 2008, up to 150,000 people attended the parade.
Due to Seattle's northern state climates, like Ireland, the city received many Irish immigrants. So many that Seattle and Galway are sister cities. Every year on St. Patrick's Day, the Seattle Parade starts at 4th Avenue and Jefferson to the Reviewing Stand at Westlake Park, ending officially at the Seattle Center. The annual Irish Week Festival is enormous, including step dancing, food, historical and modern exhibitions, and Irish lessons. This is all celebrated on St. Patrick's Day and sometimes carries on until the 15, 16, and 17 March.
The Southern Nevada, (formerly Las Vegas) Sons of Erin has put on a parade since 1966. It was formerly held on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, later moved to 4th street. Since 2005, the parade has been held in downtown Henderson. It is one of the biggest parades in the state of Nevada. It also consists of a three day festival, carnival and classic car show in Old Town Henderson.
The festivities of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (since 1956) include a 5K race with a finish line at Power Plant Live! and a brunch (both on the day of the parade) plus numerous fundraisers in Baltimore's Irish restaurants, leading up to the event.
Rolla is home to the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri-Rolla, and Missouri School of Mines), an engineering college. St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, and the school and town's celebrations last for a week or more, with a downtown parade held the Saturday before St. Pat's. A royal court are crowned, and the streets of the city's downtown area are painted solid green. In 2008, Rolla celebrated its 100th St. Patrick's Day festival.