Saint Patrick's Day or simply Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day that celebrates Saint Patrick Day for the Irish and for those who would like to be Irish. The most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on 17 March.
In the United States
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 1766, the parades were held as political and social statements because the Irish immigrants were being treated unfairly. 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. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-coloured clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched, usually affectionately.
Many parades are held to celebrate the holiday. The longest-running of these are:
New York City, since 1762
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since 1771
Morristown, New Jersey, since 1780
New Orleans, Louisiana, since 1809
Buffalo, New York, since 1811
Savannah, Georgia, since 1813
Carbondale, Pennsylvania, since 1833
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since 1843
Chicago, Illinois, since 1843
New Haven, Connecticut, since 1842
Saint Paul, Minnesota, since 1851
San Francisco, California, since 1852
Scranton, Pennsylvania, since 1862
Cleveland, Ohio, since 1867
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since 1869
Kansas City, Missouri, since 1873
Butte, Montana, since 1882
Rolla, Missouri, since 1908
The parade organizers have claimed an expected attendance of around 400,000. In 2006, the T?naiste was featured in the parade. The parade travels through Savannah's Historic District. One tradition that has developed has been the official "dyeing of the fountains" which happens several days before the parade.
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."
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. The Commissioner of the parade always asks the Commanding Officer if the 69th is ready, to which the response is, "The 69th is always ready." 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 continued to don an Irish sweater and march every year up until 2003, even though he was 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.
Seattle's St. Patrick's Day Parade, recognized by CNN in 2009 as one of the "Five places to get your green on" in America, travels along a 1-mile route through the Emerald City's downtown financial and retail core the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day. Seattle's St. Patrick's Day Celebration is the largest and oldest in the Northwestern United States. In 2009, some 20,000 spectators and groups from throughout the Northwest turned out for the city's Irish shenanigans. Along with the annual "Laying 'O the Green" where Irish revelers mark the path of the next morning's procession with a mile-long green stripe, the Seattle parade marks the high-point of Seattle's Irish Week festivities. The week-long civic celebration organized by the city's Irish Heritage Club includes the annual Society of the Friends of St. Patrick Dinner where a century-old Irish Shillelagh has been passed to the group's new president for 70 years, an Irish Soda Bread Baking Contest, a Mass for Peace that brings together Catholics and others in a Protestant church, and the annual Irish Week Festival, which takes place around St. Patrick's day is enormous, including step dancing, food, historical and modern exhibitions, and Irish lessons. Many celebrities of Irish descent visit Seattle during it's St. Patrick's Day Celebration. In 2010 The Right Honourable Desmond Guinness, a direct descendant of Guinness Brewery founder Arthur Guinness, will serve as the parade's grand marshal. In 2009, The Tonight Show's Conan O'Brien made a guest appearance at the annual Mayor's Proclamation Luncheon at local Irish haunt F.X. McCrory's. And in 2008, European Union Ambassador to the U.S. and former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton served as the parade's grand marshal and marched alongside Tom Costello, the mayor of Galway, Seattle's Irish sister city.
The Southern Nevada, (formerly Las Vegas) Sons of Erin have 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.
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, the school and town's celebrations start ten days before St. Patrick's Day, with a downtown parade held the Saturday before St. Patrick's. A royal court is crowned, and the streets in the city's downtown area are painted solid green. Each year's celebrations are said to be "The Best Ever." In 2008, Rolla celebrated its "100th Annual Best Ever St. Patrick's Day 2008" celebration.