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, New York

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.
 

Boston, Massachusetts

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.
 

Chicago, Illinois

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, Georgia

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.


Seattle, Washington

The Pacific Northwest town has more to offer than coffee or grunge. Their St. Patrick’s Day is nothing to scoff at. The Parade heads North on 4th avenue and ends at the Seattle Center at 2 PM. Seattle’s festival is family-friendly, too. Family oriented activities include Irish musicians, dancers, and Irish short films during the Irish Reels Film Festival. And be sure to check out the contests for children, including the “Smilingest Irish Eyes” and “Most Irish-looking Face.” Enter your little leprechaun and see if you can win that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Other events include Genelealogy and Gaelic language classes, so if you aren’t lucky enough to be born Irish, at least you can pretend to be.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia hosts another large St. Patty’s Day parade, and documents show their first parade kicked off in 1771. Philly holds its annual parade on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, to rule out any in-week revelry. The celebration begins at Broad Street and Washington Avenue at noon. The streets are chock full of people wearing green and orange, musicians, and local ‘celebrities’ like political or cultural representatives. Be sure to ride the Erin Express to get you to and from the pubs you intend to crawl out of – it’s a free shuttle bus that looks out for St. Patrick’s Day partiers.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco held its first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 1851, in the thick of the famous Gold Rush. And while it may not be the oldest or largest in the United States, it has the distinction of being the biggest and oldest, west of the Mighty Mississippi River. San Franciscans know how to party right and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. The parade is a reflection of the Irish pride of many of its inhabitants. Watch as dancers, twirlers, and musicians from all over California march down 2nd and Market Streets toward City Hall. Tip: Use the BART public transport to avoid heavy traffic and problematic (or most likely, non-existent) parking.

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