In fact, the first St Patrick’s Day parades were actually held in Boston in the eighteenth century. At that time, many of the city’s inhabitants would have been fresh off the boat from Ireland, but the tradition has remained ever since…
The continued popularity of St Patrick’s Day celebrations have certainly got a lot to do with the fact that there is still great pride amongst people and communities of Irish heritage, especially in the US and Canada. Many of the forbears of those who celebrate today will have had to overcome great hardship both before coming to America, and during their efforts to start a new life in a new country, which is still very much recognized today.
Of course, the popularity may also have something to do with the liveliness of the festivities! The Irish have always been well-known for their great party spirit, and their sense of fun, and this is massively evident in the celebrations. St Patrick’s Day in the likes of Boston and New York is not for the faint-hearted, and you’ll definitely need to have your (preferably green) drinking socks on!
The usual St Patrick’s Day parades will be taking place in Boston and New York this year, which are arguably the largest and loudest in the whole of North America.
The New York parade normally attracts 150,000 marchers, 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 it is always led by the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment.
For 2011, the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled for Sunday, March 20th. The parade takes place in South Boston (or “Southie” as it is more commonly known), the city’s most Irish neighborhood, and runs for three hours. An estimated 600,000 people attend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade each year, so any spectators need to arrive in good time!
If you can’t make it to either of these cities, fear not – there are plenty of other celebrations to witness, or get involved in across the US and Canada. A particular phenomenon in recent years, has been for cities to dye rivers and fountains green in recognition of the Emerald isle’s beloved patron saint…Chicago, Washington and Savannah have all made this watery tribute in the past.