Everyone is a bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day. The annual holiday invites people from all over the world to remember the beloved patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. Some people celebrate by eating authentic Irish food including soda bread or corned beef and cabbage. Other people shake their shamrocks by drinking Irish whiskey or Guinness. But no festivities are complete without a parade. Luckily, there are several parades that take place right here in the U.S. if you can't make it to the Emerald Isle.
New York City hosts the biggest and oldest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world. Started in 1766 by an Irish military unit serving the American colonies, the parade's two million spectators are only out-dressed by the marchers themselves. On March 15, the day begins at 11 a.m. as the parade marches up 5th Avenue, clan by clan, from 44th to 86th streets. To lock down a good spot, many parade-goers get up before dawn. Like everything else in the city, expect an enormous crowd. Afterward, you can keep the party buzzing till dawn at the bars in the 50s along 2nd Avenue.
With more than 20 percent Irish ancestry in Boston alone, Massachusetts claims the title as America's most Irish state. In fact, they even compete with New York declaring that South Boston St. Patrick's parade was the world's first recorded parade, hosted in 1737. Whic
hever the case, today, the famous parade has become the second-largest celebration in the country with more than 850,000 people in attendance. The green extravaganza on March 16 starts at the Broadway 'T' Station and ends at Andrew Square in South Boston. Find a place somewhere on Broadway to watch the festivities. From floats to marching bands to Celtic dancers, your Irish eyes will be smiling when you see what the three-hour parade has to offer.
Chi-town goes all out and dyes the Chicago River green. The tradition began in 1962 when they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river - enough to keep it green for a week. These days, only forty pounds of dye are used in order to minimize harm to the environment. Besides the river, the rest of Chicago's parade is just as festive: floats, Irish step dancers, bands, clowns, Clydesdale horses and more. Rain or shine on March 15, the parade steps off at Balbo Avenue and heads north to Monroe Street Take note that feisty redheads might want to check out The South Side Irish Parade - the largest neighborhood-based St. Patrick's Day parade outside of Dublin, and rumored to be rowdier than the one held downtown - if that's possible.
Savannah’s St Patrick Day Parade boasts the most people in attendance, even more than the Big Apple. It even gives Chicago a run for its money by dyeing all their city fountains green. The Parade snakes its way through the Historic Park District for the big celebration. It has also become tradition for women spectators to kiss the Armed Forces Units and other military men who participate in the parade, giving new meaning to the phrase, Kiss me, I’m Irish! But beware. Some people have likened the celebration to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so if bacchanalia isn’t your scene, stay at home.