First St. Patrick’s Day parade

The first recorded parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held in what is now St. Augustine, Florida.

Records show that a St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on March 17, 1601 in a Spanish colony under the direction of the colony's Irish vicar, Ricardo Artur. More than a century later, homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in Boston in 1737 and in New York City on March 1762.

Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in history. Born in Britain to a Christian family of Roman citizenship, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland, and he spent six years in captivity before escaping back to Britain. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church’s second missionary to Ireland. Patrick began his mission to Ireland in 432, and by his death in 461, the island was almost entirely Christian.

READ MORE: How St. Patrick's Day Was Made in America

Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America.

The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City was held in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and engaging in general revelry.

A second parade (of sorts) could be said to have occurred in 1776, when British ships, troops, and sympathizers evacuated the city en masse during a violent storm.

Their retreat came after Continental troops moved 59 cannons from the newly captured Fort Ticonderoga to Boston earlier that month, under the leadership of Colonel Henry Knox (pictured). The cannons — including imitations made of blackened logs — were strategically placed on Dorchester Heights in South Boston overlooking Boston Harbor and the British Navy’s ships, said Philip Wuschke Jr., the organizer of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

The British left Boston peacefully, sparing any casualties, a move that George Washington later called a “most remarkable Interposition by Providence,’’ according to the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade’s website.

And while the evacuation’s occurrence on Saint Patrick’s feast day was a coincidence, the Catholic saint played a role that day. Washington used “Saint Patrick’’ as a code word for soldiers to pass through the Continental lines, said Wuschke.

Where is the oldest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the world?

Boston and New York have long laid claim to being the centers of Irish immigration that saw the very start of St. Patrick’s Day parades before they had even started in Ireland itself with start-up dates of 1737 and 1762 respectively.

In truth, St Augustine in Florida beats them to the mark and is, in fact, home to the oldest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world. (Waterford in 1903 held the first St.Patrick's Day parade in Ireland.)

According to new research unearthed in Florida, St Augustine may have well over a hundred years on Boston and New York, holding its first St Patrick’s Day celebration in 1600 and its first parade in 1601.

Read more

The sensational information was uncovered in December 2017 by historian Dr. J. Michael Francis in a gunpowder expenditures log in Spain's Archivo General de Indias, or AGI. The documents reveal that spring festivities which included a feast day of San Patricio (St. Patrick) was held in the year 1600 in St. Augustine, Florida.

"While artillery pieces often were fired to help guide ships safely across St. Augustine's protective sandbar, they were also fired during times of public celebrations and religious festivals," Francis wrote in his blog for PBS.

"In March of 1601, St. Augustine's residents gathered together and processed through the city's streets in honor of an Irish saint, who appears to have assumed a privileged place in the Spanish garrison town. Indeed, during these same years, St. Patrick was identified as the official 'protector' of the city's maize fields."

The professor and Chair of the Department of History and Politics at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, has studied the records on and off over the past 30 years and he was certainly surprised to discover this information on a St Patrick’s Day celebration written in Spanish in Florida.

"It was certainly a surprise . it did not register the first time I looked through it. . It was written in Spanish, and it took a few seconds before it actually hit me that this was a St. Patrick's Day parade/procession," Francis explained to Renee Unsworth from

"I don't know how much it will change the national perception (of St. Patrick's Day) which has evolved into something so unique. . It certainly forces people to pause."

The news was also welcomed by recently-retired City of St. Augustine archaeologist Carl Halbirt who was recently named Parade Marshal of the 2018 St. Augustine St. Patrick's Day Parade taking place on March 10.

"The history of St. Augustine, its diversity, and place in American (U. S.) heritage is often overlooked by people who do not live in Northeast Florida," Halbert said to

Celebrate everything Irish this March with IrishCentral's global community.

"Yet, it is a city of firsts and oldest in terms of the country's European ancestry. The discovery of this particular cultural tradition only adds to the city's mystic and place. The late historian Luis Arana stated that 'we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg' regarding the historical records (and I might add the city's buried archaeological record). Dr. Michael Francis's discovery of these documents adds to St. Augustine's cultural heritage."

From his research, Francis believes that the St Patrick’s Day parade in St Augustine was influenced by the Irish priest Richard Arthur.

“It is likely that Richard Arthur was responsible for the Irish saint’s short-lived prominence in St. Augustine,” he writes.

“When Arthur disappears from the historical records, so too do the references to the Irish saint, and soon thereafter, the memory of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and processions began to fade from public memory.

“Today, St. Patrick’s Day is one of St. Augustine’s most popular celebrations, but its early seventeenth-century origins have long been forgotten.”

Read more

While St Augustine could prove to be the oldest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world, as there was no continuation of the parade throughout the past 400 years, Boston and New York could still continue that they are the owners of the oldest continuous parade.

The first parade was held in New York on held on March 15, 1762, in Bowling Green in lower Manhattan. Before this time, St. Patrick’s Day was honored as a Catholic feast day on which a special Mass was attended and nothing more, but in a show of national pride, Irish soldiers within the British Army marched through Bowling Green in honor of their patron saint, with New Yorkers claiming that this would spark a trend that would result in the worldwide festivities we celebrate today.

Boston, on the other hand, could claim the first celebration but not first St. Patrick’s Day parade. On March 17, 1737, as a gesture of solidarity among the city’s new Irish immigrants, Boston’s Irish community joined together in festivities of their homeland.

Either way, all three locations in the US were hundreds of years before the first St Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland which was held in Waterford in 1903.

What do you reckon? Is it likely that the first St Patrick’s Day parade in the world took place in Florida? Let us know what you think in the comments section, below.

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This day in history, March 17: New York holds first St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Today is Wednesday, March 17, the 76th day of 2021. There are 289 days left in the year. This is St. Patrick’s Day.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 17, 1762, New York held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade.

In 1776, the Revolutionary War Siege of Boston ended as British forces evacuated the city.

In 1936, Pittsburgh’s Great St. Patrick’s Day Flood began as the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers and their tributaries, swollen by rain and melted snow, started exceeding flood stage the high water was blamed for more than 60 deaths.

In 1941, the National Gallery of Art opened in Washington, D.C.

In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India in the wake of a failed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule.

In 1966, a U.S. Navy midget submarine located a missing hydrogen bomb that had fallen from a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber into the Mediterranean off Spain. (It took several more weeks to actually recover the bomb.)

In 1969, Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel.

In 1970, the United States cast its first veto in the U.N. Security Council, killing a resolution that would have condemned Britain for failing to use force to overthrow the white-ruled government of Rhodesia.

In 1988, Avianca Flight 410, a Boeing 727, crashed after takeoff into a mountain in Colombia, killing all 143 people on board.

In 1992, 29 people were killed in the truck bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Illinois, Sen. Alan Dixon was defeated in his primary reelection bid by Carol Moseley-Braun, who went on to become the first Black woman in the U.S. Senate.

In 2003, edging to the brink of war, President George W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave his country. Iraq rejected Bush’s ultimatum, saying that a U.S. attack to force Saddam from power would be “a grave mistake.”

In 2009, U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained by North Korea while reporting on North Korean refugees living across the border in China. (Both were convicted of entering North Korea illegally and were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor both were freed in August 2009 after former President Bill Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.) The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its final print edition.

In 2010, Michael Jordan became the first ex-player to become a majority owner in the NBA as the league’s Board of Governors unanimously approved Jordan’s $275 million bid to buy the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson.

Ten years ago: The U.N. Security Council paved the way for international air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, voting to authorize military action to protect civilians and impose a no-fly zone over Libya. U.S. drone missiles hit a village in Pakistan U.S. officials said the group targeted was heavily armed and that some of its members were connected to al-Qaida, but Pakistani officials said the missiles hit a community meeting, killing four Taliban fighters and 38 civilians and tribal police. Country music entertainer Ferlin Husky, 85, died in Westmoreland, Tennessee.

Five years ago: The Obama administration formally concluded the Islamic State group was committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. An Arizona man was convicted of a terror charge tied to an attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, marking the second conviction in the U.S. related to the Islamic State group Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, an American-born Muslim convert, was later sentenced to 30 years in prison. Finally bowing to years of public pressure, SeaWorld Entertainment said it would no longer breed killer whales or make them perform crowd-pleasing tricks.

One year ago: A three-week shelter-in-place order took effect in six San Francisco-area counties, requiring most residents to stay inside and venture out only for food, medicine or exercise. State TV in Iran warned that “millions” could die if Iranians kept traveling and ignored health guidance the coronavirus death toll in Iran neared 1,000. More movie theaters closed nationwide the nation’s largest chain, AMC, said its theaters would close for at least six to 12 weeks. Bus riders in Detroit were stranded after most drivers didn’t report to work. The Kentucky Derby and the French Open were each postponed from May to September. A case of the coronavirus was reported in West Virginia, the only U.S. state that hadn’t seen one until that point. As Florida, Arizona and Illinois went ahead with presidential primaries, hundreds of poll workers dropped out, forcing state officials to scramble. Joe Biden swept to primary victories, increasingly pulling away in the Democratic race.

Today’s birthdays: The former national chairwoman of the NAACP, Myrlie Evers-Williams, is 88. Former astronaut Ken Mattingly is 85. Singer-songwriter John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful) is 77. Former NSA Director and former CIA Director Michael Hayden is 76. Rock musician Harold Brown (War Lowrider Band) is 75. Actor Patrick Duffy is 72. Actor Kurt Russell is 70. Country singer Susie Allanson is 69. Actor Lesley-Anne Down is 67. Actor Mark Boone Jr. is 66. Country singer Paul Overstreet is 66. Actor Gary Sinise is 66. Actor Christian Clemenson is 63. Former basketball and baseball player Danny Ainge is 62. Actor Arye Gross is 61. Actor Vicki Lewis is 61. Actor Casey Siemaszko (sheh-MA’-zshko) is 60. Writer-director Rob Sitch is 59. Actor Rob Lowe is 57. Rock singer Billy Corgan is 54. Rock musician Van Conner (Screaming Trees) is 54. Actor Mathew St. Patrick is 53. Actor Yanic (YAH’-neek) Truesdale is 52. Rock musician Melissa Auf der Maur is 49. Olympic gold medal soccer player Mia Hamm is 49. Rock musician Caroline Corr (The Corrs) is 48. Actor Amelia Heinle is 48. Country singer Keifer Thompson (Thompson Square) is 48. Actor Marisa Coughlan is 47. Actor Natalie Zea (zee) is 46. Sports reporter Tracy Wolfson is 46. Actor Brittany Daniel is 45. Singer and TV personality Tamar Braxton is 44. Country musician Geoff Sprung (Old Dominion) is 43. Reggaeton singer Nicky Jam is 40. TV personality Rob Kardashian (kar-DASH’-ee-uhn) (TV: “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”) is 34. Pop/rock singer-songwriter Hozier is 31. Actor Eliza Hope Bennett is 29. Actor John Boyega is 29. Olympic gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky is 24. Actor Flynn Morrison is 16.

Journalism, it’s often said, is the first-draft of history. Check back each day for what’s new … and old.

The first Wearin’ of the Green, St Patrick's Day Parade rolled on March 13, 1986. Parade History in the making. Antique cars, convertibles, twirlers, scouts, close friends and family made their way down to Zee Zee Gardens pub from City Park Golf Course. Blessed with a sunny day, Pat Shingleton began his day with an Irish breakfast and started his annual tradition of walking with family at the end of the parade.

It was a year earlier when he and his wife, Mabyn, were visiting his hometown when they finalized their purchase of ZeeZee Gardens Pub with two friends* and brother, Kevin. As Shingleton watched the St. Patrick’s Day Parade line-up on the Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his parade vision began to crystallize. ZeeZee's would become synonymous with the parade being the primary place for meetings. In the years that followed, Krewe Captain Safety meetings were held at the Our Lady of Mercy Parish Activity Center and the East Baton Rouge School Board Office. In 2015, Safety Information for the Krewes went online. You'll find this parade rich with green and white and customized Mardi Gras type beads.

Parade Timeline

1982 Pat Shingleton (WBRZ TV) was asked to cover the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Once there, he asked if the parade was starting to line up but was told by then Mayor Pat Screen's assistant, Rochelle McCann, that what he was seeing ‘was the parade.’ (It was very small.)

1986 First year for Wearin’ of the Green Walking Parade – Parade route City Park Golf Course to Zee Zee Gardens. **

1991 New Parade Route starts Hundred Oaks at South Acadian Thruway

1994 Final year of annual street-party at the foot of the Overpass on Perkins Road.

1995 Friends of the Parade, orchestrated by Donna and Rene Esnard, rallied to keep parade in Hundred Oaks neighborhood. Obtained over 600 signatures.

1998 Due to a Mardi Gras parade tragedy, police publicized that their DWI van would be on hand for our parade to ‘help prevent’ drivers from driving while intoxicated.

1999 The Parade Group, LLC was formed to manage the year-round activities of the parade.

2009 The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile rolled in our route for the first time Special provisions were made due to crumbling concrete supports on the Overpass Bridge

2016 Mockler Beverage brings the world famous Clydesdales to lead the parade! Drizzling wet weather kept major crowds away but it was a great day for thousands.

2017 Honored the Sacrificies of the men and women who protect us daily, our law enforcement. The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile and Planter's NUTMobile were fun additions for this year's parade.

2018 Our online store opened. The public can now order limited edition parade prints, cups and tee shirts. We were pleased to welcome back The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile and Planter's NUTMobile.

2019 This year ushered several new things. The inaugural 5K Shamrock Run on the historic parade route was so much fun! This was also the first year we published the Wearin' of the Green Official Parade Publication. The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile rolled again with us and we were highly entertained by the the Southern University Band, the Human Jukebox. It was the first year of the Parade Flags. We mailed one flag to each of our oldest Krewes.

2020 Grand Marshal Todd Graves was announced on Halfway Day.

Previous St. Patrick’s Day Parade History

The Sons of Erin, organized in 1906, was an Irish group for males of Irish descent. Their tradition was to start the day out with mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church and then, fly the flag of Ireland over the City while members paraded down Third Street. In the evening they would enjoy a dinner at the Heidelberg Hotel while listening to the "finest entertainment". a grand tenor with a lilt to his voice. This small walking parade was full of names like Bogan, Keogh, Brennan, Murphy, Burden, Tullis, McInnis, McCurnin, McAndrew, and Hynes.

In 1951, the wives of the members expressed their displeasure at this annual St. Patrick’s Day stag party. As a result of their exclusion, the Irish Club of Baton Rouge was formed in 1951. Across town at Mike and Tony's Restaurant (Scenic Hwy), the Marching Irish crowned their afternoon parade with a feast. Records end in 1967. These were the days when the Irish Club of Baton Rouge was a thriving organization which would ship in fresh shamrocks every year for the celebration. A green stripe was painted down the center of the downtown street. Parade records dwindled as did participation in the Club and the Parade.

*Andy Ezell, Martin Schott
** Special thanks to Chuck Perrodin, Joe Keogh, Pat Screen (former Mayor) and Martin Flanagan (Design talent extraordinairre who created our distinctive logo with the drunk marching men)


The year was 1851 and San Francisco was deep in the Gold Rush boom. Many of the 49’s that came seeking treasures and wealth were Irish immigrants, hoping to strike it rich out west. During this time the Irish community held the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration which was a party at Hayes Valley Park followed by a Shamrock Ball located at a nearby tavern. It was only a few years later that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was organized, in 1853 which held even more festivities and followed again by a Ball.

Those first parades were giant affairs and kept growing over that decade. This was mainly due to the fact that Colonel Patrick Conner who was stationed at Stockton during the Civil War was invited by Governor Downey, to have the Colonel bring his troops and lead the parade. Not only did he bring his troops but 20 other officers and a regimental band to play during the marching of the parade. The parade also included the Irish American Benevolent Society, the Sons of Erin and the St. Patrick’s Brotherhood.

After the parade ended, St. Mary’s Cathedral celebrated with a high mass. The evening lead to a grand ball in Hayes Park where speeches and recitations were given which gave way to parties that lasted until early the next morning. The papers were ecstatic with the participation of this celebration that was given in 1862 and would later be considered the “model for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.”

The parade itself is a huge draw for attendees from all different demographics and ethnicity. The addition of the Festival after the parade provides a great opportunity for attendees to learn more about Irish history and culture while having a great time experiencing the day. A full day of activity is planned for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Civic Center Plaza and on Grove Street, Polk to Larkin Street.

The colorful festivities surrounding the Parade & Festival will showcase Irish Culture through live performance and entertainment, arts and crafts exhibitors, food and beverage concessions, children’s rides and inflatable’s, cultural displays, a petting zoo and pony ride and a number of non-profits booths representing the Irish community.

A history of Savannah’s biggest parade

SURE, you&rsquore up to date on the drinking portion of St. Patrick&rsquos Day weekend, but are you as equally versed in the parade?

The Savannah St. Patrick&rsquos Day parade is one of the largest in the country.

Ashley Norris, a native Savannahian, serves as secretary of the St. Patrick&rsquos Day Parade. In his ten years on the executive committee, he&rsquos held every role except chairman or vice chairman&mdashbut that&rsquos coming.

We talked with Norris about the parade&rsquos history, what the parade committee does, and what to expect this year.

The St. Patrick&rsquos Day Parade is in its 196th year.

The first publicly-held St. Patrick&rsquos Day parade was in 1824 and organized by the Hibernian Society.

&ldquoThe parade was pretty much established for the purpose of the Irish families celebrating the patron saint of St. Patrick,&rdquo explains Norris.

While St. Patrick was not actually from Ireland, he&rsquos credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. The most popular story about St. Patrick is that he drove all the snakes of Ireland into the sea, but he also used the shamrock&rsquos three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity.

Irish culture in Savannah dates back to when General James Oglethorpe first founded the colony of Georgia.

&ldquoDuring Oglethorpe&rsquos time, when he came, there were a lot of Irish Protestant families that came over with Oglethorpe, and there were Irish that were here already,&rdquo says Norris, &ldquobut the majority of the Irish Catholics that came over were more or less from the potato famine.&rdquo

Norris&rsquo own family came to Savannah around the potato famine of the mid-1800s, settling in the Old Fort district where the Brice Hotel now sits.

The parade is a separate event from the festival.

While the dates of the festival and the parade usually coincide, this year&rsquos parade takes place on Tuesday, while the festival happens Friday through Sunday.

&ldquoWe have the parade, which separates and differentiates from the festival itself,&rdquo says Norris. &ldquoPeople come because we have a parade, and the festival is just kind of the party zone. We like to celebrate as well, but our main focus is to celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. It&rsquos all about faith, family and country, is what we focus everything around.&rdquo

Where the festival is known for its bacchanalia, the parade is known for its adherence to Irish history and tradition.

&ldquoBeing with your family on that day, walking all together through the streets and hearing all the people in Savannah, and everybody is proud to watch the Irish, it&rsquos a great feeling,&rdquo says Norris.

It&rsquos a huge honor to be involved in the parade.

The parade committee, which consists of over a thousand members, has an executive committee of five elected and 12 appointed positions. The committee votes on the grand marshal, who this year is Michael W. Roush Sr.

&ldquoHe&rsquos not from Savannah originally, but he&rsquos been here long enough,&rdquo says Norris. &ldquoHe was an awesome adjutant to work under, a really nice guy, well deserving of the title.&rdquo

Being the grand marshal of the parade is such a big deal, says Norris, &ldquothat if you&rsquore from Savannah and a mother had two kids and one was the Vice President of the United States and one was the grand marshal of the parade, they&rsquod recognize the grand marshal first.&rdquo

The parade is just one event in the Irish season, as Norris calls it.

By the time St. Patrick&rsquos Day rolls around, there have already been plenty of events celebrating Irish heritage.

Irish season in Savannah begins with the Irish Festival, which takes place over Valentine&rsquos Day weekend&mdash&ldquoit&rsquos caused arguments in the past,&rdquo laughs Norris.

There&rsquos also the greening of the fountain and the Celtic Cross Mass, which Norris says is absolutely beautiful.

On Mar. 16, the day before the parade, there&rsquos the Sgt. William Jasper Memorial Procession and Ceremony. Jasper was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and was killed in the Siege of Savannah in 1779.

There&rsquos also an Irish parade and celebration down on Tybee, which happens during festival weekend. &ldquoWhen everything&rsquos happening on River Street, come get away down there,&rdquo says Norris.

Then, on parade day, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist holds Catholic mass bright and early at 8 a.m.

This year, the parade is a little smaller, but it&rsquos still a big deal.

Since the parade falls on a weekday this year, it&rsquoll be a little more toned down than in years past. Norris estimates there are under 300 units, whereas last year there were around 400 units.

&ldquoWith the weekday parade, we&rsquoll see a little bit smaller of a crowd,&rdquo says Norris. &ldquoSome of the people will hang around from the festivities on the river and come and actually see the parade.&rdquo

This year will also see the absence of a parade favorite.

&ldquoWe&rsquore going to be missing part of the 3rd ID, since they&rsquore deployed,&rdquo adds Norris. &ldquoIt&rsquos always fun when they&rsquore here, but when they&rsquore deployed, we don&rsquot tend to see them.&rdquo

Planning for the parade begins about a month after it&rsquos over.

&ldquoOur dues and first quarterly meeting is in May, so sometime in April we start planning that and getting things in order,&rdquo says Norris. &ldquoWe start to talk with some of the bigger bands we&rsquove had Virginia Tech here several times. Things that take an act of Congress to get here, it takes a while. We can&rsquot just jump in in September and be like, &lsquoHey, wanna come in March?&rsquo&rdquo

Actually, the parade committee doesn&rsquot get much of a break.

&ldquoWith having the leap year this year, it&rsquos been a little different because we&rsquove had a couple days off, and usually we&rsquore used to a two-and-a-half week nonstop every day,&rdquo says Norris. &ldquoThis is the first year I can remember that we&rsquoll have the Tybee parade on Saturday and nothing on Sunday.&rdquo

On parade day itself, the executive committee is hard at work.

&ldquoWe always start off with a few breakfasts we attend as the executive committee,&rdquo says Norris. &ldquoWe&rsquoll go around to the different societies&mdashthey usually have breakfasts for a few hours, but we make an appearance at all of them, shake some hands, and then we&rsquore off.&rdquo

This year is also special because of the Wexford connection with Georgia Southern.

Georgia Southern University&rsquos Center of Irish Research and Development recently opened a campus in Wexford, Ireland.

&ldquoThere was some good trade industry between Savannah and Ireland at that time, mainly coming out of Wexford County,&rdquo says Norris. &ldquoNow the SEDA and the Wexford-Savannah Axis and things have gotten together and we&rsquore actually doing trading as we speak. Savannah Bee Company is selling all over Ireland&mdashit&rsquos a good connection. We keep those strong ties with Ireland and Savannah.&rdquo

The St. Patrick&rsquos Day Parade is open to everyone and designed to bring everyone together.

It&rsquos a powerful moment, Norris says, being at the parade and seeing everyone together in support of Irish culture.

&ldquoDuring a time when we have so much hatred in this country, almost half the country is in disagreement with each other,&rdquo says Norris, &ldquoto bring everyone together is one of the things we love.&rdquo

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the U.S. was actually held in Florida, historians say


Courtesy: Visit St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - It’s wasn’t Boston. It wasn’t Chicago. It was St. Augustine where the first parade to celebrate the feast of St. Patrick was held in the U.S., according to historians.

J. Michael Francis, a history professor at the University of South Florida, told The Washington Post he stumbled upon the discovery by accident, but learned the parade was held on March 17, 1601. At the time, there was a Spanish colony operating under the Irish vicar, whose name was Ricardo Artur. 

He said it’s not unusual for artillery to be fired during times of celebrations and religious festivals. As he was looking over Spanish colonial records, including gun powder expenditures, he read about canons being fired to honor San Augustin, but almost missed the mention of another saint: Saint Patrick.

"At first, it didn’t register because it was so unexpected," Francis told the Post. "Then I thought, wait a second, they had a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in St. Augustine in 1600?"

Another entry showed in the following year, St. Augustine held a parade.

In a PBS documentary, "Secrets of Spanish Florida," they note there were at least two Irish residents in St. Augustine at the time. One of them being Ricardo Artur, a parish priest, and likely the responsible party for the celebration of Saint Patrick.

"When Arthur disappears from the historical records, so too do the references to the Irish saint, and soon thereafter, the memory of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and processions began to fade from public memory," according to PBS.

It wouldn’t be until more than a century later when਋oston held its first St. Patrick&aposs Day in 1737. New York City held its parade in 1762. 

March shenanigans: A stolen suit, a dip in the green river and other oddities from Chicago’s long history of St. Patrick’s Day parades

St. Patrick’s Day parades have been canceled for a second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but enjoying some historical parade trivia can help keep the parade spirit alive.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago occurred on Friday, March 17, 1843. By today’s standards, it was a modest affair. According to “The History of Chicago” by Alfred Theodore Andreas, published in 1884, the Montgomery Guards and the Chicago Brass Band turned out for a procession, and there was a Mass in honor of the saint at St. Mary’s, the city’s first Catholic church, which had been established in the 1830s.

The Montgomery Guards, part of the Illinois Militia, was a volunteer group named for Irish-born American Revolutionary War General Richard Montgomery. State militias supplemented the small U.S. Army and evolved into today’s U. S. National Guard. The Chicago Brass Band, an amateur group, was a regular part of Chicago parades and events in the city’s early years.

Parades became a regular annual event, featuring the volunteer militias and the many organizations and societies that the city’s Irish Catholics had founded.

Until 1892, the parade marchers were all men. The Inter Ocean newspaper reported that in February of that year, Miss Fannie O’Grady gave a “stirring speech” to the planning committee asking for Chicago Irishwomen to be included in the parade. Her remarks were met with applause and a motion was approved to invite women to participate with their husbands, brothers, and sweethearts.

How many women participated that first year was not reported, but at least one woman, Jennie Hancock, certainly did, or at least tried to. The Chicago Tribune reported she stole a man’s suit while he was sleeping, and dressing herself in it, took up a green flag and joined the parade. She got into a public argument with the Grand Marshal, Col. James H. Lynch, when she announced that she, not he, would lead the parade up Halsted Street. The police were called in and she was arrested.

That same year, the Tribune reported that just as the Ancient Order of Hibernians organization was passing Engine House No. 32 on Michigan Avenue, the fire alarm sounded. The horse-drawn engine and trucks rushed into the street, creating pandemonium and scattering AOH marchers and putting some in danger of being trampled. A passageway through the parade was created for the fire department, and the parade came to a standstill as people followed the wagons to the alleyway where smoke was pouring out from windows. Fortunately, the fire was quickly put out, and the parade continued on its way.

March being an unpredictable month, weather was always a factor for the parades. The streets in the early years were not paved and the marchers usually slogged through deep mud.

The coldest St. Patrick’s Day on record in Chicago occurred in 1900, when the overnight temperature was one degree below zero. The newspapers reported the parade took place with a daytime temperature of sixteen degrees in blinding whirlwinds of snow and biting wind blasts. The streets were slippery frozen mud.

Still, enthusiasm was high, with more than 3,000 people marching, and many more cheering them on. Irish and American flags whipped wildly in the wind and musicians played with numb fingers. An Irish jaunting car, a special feature of the parade, “bounced and pitched and rolled and slid” through the frozen ruts but made it to the parade’s end.

The record high temperature for St. Patrick’s Day was 82 degrees in 2012. Parade goers enjoyed the warm weather so much, reported the Tribune, that two men jumped into the Chicago River, which was dyed green for the day per custom. After they were fished out, one ran away and the other was ticketed by the police. A visitor from Georgia lamented there was no snow she was hoping to experience some Chicago winter weather. Chicagoans were not sorry to disappoint her.

No official parades were held between 1902 and the 1950s. They were initially discontinued because of politics in Ireland. The Irish in the U.S. remained very involved in the cause of Irish independence from Great Britain, and local leaders felt it was inappropriate to celebrate until that goal was accomplished.

The Irish Free State was declared in 1922, and the Republic of Ireland was established in 1948-49.

Parades began again in west and south side neighborhoods of the city. The largest of these, the Southtown Parade in Gresham, ran from 1953 to 1960 along 79th Street to St. Sabina Church.

In 1956, once again a parade was held downtown. Following the parade, the Tribune reported, the Irish Fellowship Club invited a guest speaker, the Irish American senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy, who spoke on “colonialism” and called for the U.S. to “speak out boldly for freedom for all people.”

Kennedy was not the first presidential figure to visit Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day. Back in 1910, President William H. Taft came here, and according to the Inter Ocean, this was the first time a U.S. president was in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. This parade was actually his motorcade from the train station to the hotel and included the Illinois National Guard and Chicago mounted police. President Taft spent the day as the guest of honor at functions including the Irish Fellowship Club’s banquet.

Other U.S. presidents and those who would become president marched in Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, including President George W. Bush, who appeared to have a great time in 2002, and Sen. Barack Obama joined the festivities in 2004.

In 1979, the South Side Irish Parade was begun by residents of Morgan Park nostalgic for the old Southtown Parade. It has grown to attract hundreds of thousands of attendees. Other parades have been held in other south side communities, including Tinley Park.

Humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy a parade. Popular participants at any Irish event are the Irish Wolfhounds. These shaggy gentle giants are an ancient breed of dogs, dating back 2,000 years. Folklore has it that St. Patrick traveled from Ireland on a ship that included these hounds. As a symbol of Ireland, the wolfhound represents bravery, loyalty, and steadfastness.

Joe and Madeleine Mahoney, members of the Great Lakes Irish wolfhound Association, have participated in the South Side parade for 20 years. They marched with their current dogs, Casey and Nora, in 2019.

“March just isn’t the same without the parades,” said Madeleine. “The dogs love the interaction with people and seeing their dog friends from other events. Casey reacts when he hears bagpipes on TV. He stops whatever he’s doing to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if he associates the bagpipe music with the parades!”

First St. Patrick’s Day parade - HISTORY

2007 - 246th New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade

"On the streets of New York since 1762 - the oldest, largest, and best in the world"

Saturday, March 17th 2007

Starting @ 44th Street and Fifth Avenue @11:00 a.m.

The Solemn Pontifical Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral

50th Street and Fifth Avenue @ 8:30 a.m.


Christopher Cahill, Editor in Chief,


The first recorded Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New York City took place fourteen years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On March 17,1762 a small group of Irish New Yorkers marched to the inn of one John Marshall/'at Mount Pleasant, near the College" (near the present-day intersection of Barclay and Church streets in lower Manhattan] where the day would be celebrated. Little else is known about that early parade, and in years earlier still there may have been similar marches and gatherings that have escaped record, but whatever else those solemn revelers accomplished on that late winter's day close on two and a half centuries ago, they began, or can be credited with beginning, here in New York, an annual celebration which has continued without interruption ever since.

It is only appropriate, given the uncertain record of the life and times of St. Patrick himself, that the early instances of New York's St. Patrick's Day celebrations are somewhat lost in the mists of unrecorded history. As the late Liam de Paor wrote in his classic study, Saint Patrick's World:

No actual manuscript of any find written in Ireland in that century now survives. There is virtually not a single Irish artifact in a museum or a single monument in the field of which an archeologist could say with full confidence that it was made in the fifth century.

And yet Patrick's writings, as we know them from later copies, survive today and continue to instruct and delight his great work of conversion survives, immeasurably woven into the fabric of Irish life and culture and, consequently, into the cultures of all those many nations to which the Irish have emigrated over the centuries.

Pre-revolutionary Manhattan may not be as distant and unrecoverable as fifth century Ireland, but it is far enough away, and the records of the life lived by those Irish who were here already at that time are sketchy at best, are more often blank. There is, again, a certain appropriateness to this obscurity, to our inability to bring that past time into satisfactory focus. For those early New York marchers were not only beginning the tradition we continue today, they were themselves carrying on a much older tradition, one which they had brought with them, as perhaps their sole precious possession, to this country and this city. To quote once more from Liam de Paor's splendid work of scholarship:

From the seventh century onward, Patrick was regarded as pre-eminent among Ireland's early saints. His feast day, as a kind of national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times he become more and more widely known as the patron of Ireland. The crowds who march up Fifth Avenue in New York on March 17* each year may not know a great deal about him, but in honoring his memory they follow a very ancient tradition.

So let it be said, with all Irish humility, that not only does New York's Saint Patrick's Day Parade predate the independence of the United States, it can even be traced, by extension, back nearly as far as St. Brendan the Navigator's discovery of the American New World.

St. Patrick's Day is a uniquely Irish holiday, and yet it is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other national holiday. There are St. Patrick's celebrations in Dublin, Tokyo, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, New Orleans, Savannah, Toronto, Auckland, Chicago and Montreal, to name a few/and the day must be a pleasure in all of those places, for those unlucky enough not to be in New York City. This geographical spread is less surprising when one considers the prolific dispersion undertaken by the Irish, through choice or necessity, over the past three centuries. There is no corner of the globe the Irish have left unvisited, and there is none where they have settled that has been more deeply shaped by them than has New York.

There's no denying the preeminence of New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Last year over 400 marching bands, Pipe S Drums Corps, County Societies, police, firefighters, and scores of others made up the 200,000 marchers who followed the course from St. Patrick's Cathedral up Fifth Avenue to 86th Street. Over 2,000,000 spectators lined the sidewalks to watch and cheer. These vast numbers are a far cry from the celebrations of the early years, when the parades here were chiefly military in nature, with the small groups of marchers drawn largely from Irish members of the local militia. It was not until the 1820s that the sponsorship of the parade (or of the various parades, rather, as there used to be more than a few) began to be undertaken by such social and fraternal organizations as the Hibernian Universal Benevolent Society and the Independent Sons of Erin.

It was in 1853 that the Ancient Order of Hibernians, for many years now the parade's principal sponsor, first marched. From that time onward, the time of the Great Famine and the massive increase in Irish emigration to America, the parade has been a fixture in the city's social, political, and cultural life. If it was at first intended "to show the newly arrived immigrants as respectable citizens worthy of esteem in American society" [to quote John T. Ridge, the author of a fine history of the parade], it soon became an assertion of the political strength and centrality of the Irish in New York.

Throughout its history, the parade, mindful of its religious origins and impulse, has remained more understated than some, with its row after row of marchers and riders unaccompanied by floats or amplified music. It is still what Thomas Francis Meagher, later to be a hero of the American Civil War, called it in 1855: "a festival of memory" It is a festival of religious memory, of cultural memory, and of familial memory. Though it is Patrick's day that we celebrate, it is also surely our own. For each marcher and each spectator, even those who are Irish only for the day, has his or her own family history, a history which, this country being what it is, this world being what it is, is likely to tell a tale of exile and dispossession, of struggle and success, of decline and rebirth and continuance.

It is well-known that, during the period of conversion, Christian holidays were grafted onto existing pagan periods of celebration, which they were intended to, and did in fact, replace or subsume. St. Patrick's Day must cover and continue some ancient festival celebrating spring's arrival or approach, for it does always seem to mark a turning point in the year, whether of one season dying or another coming to life. And for all the religious solemnity of the occasion, a certain pagan Celtic joie de vim is not too difficult to detect in the atmosphere.

With this year's parade, we have entered the third millennium in which St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated by the Irish and their adherents. I am writing this in the last days of the second millennium, in the middle of winter looking forward to the start of spring. It will be good to see the crowds line the avenue, as they do each year on March 17*, and to see this year's crowd larger even than the last. It will be good to see the familiar bands and banners -"The Fighting 69'", "the 42"" Infantry with their Irish wolfhounds, the County Societies, the parochial, high school, and college marching bands - and to see the year's new faces. Some years, pleasantly, it can seem as though the day will have no end to it. As an Irish American novelist once wrote, describing a mid-century parade, "The Irish swept endlessly up Fifth Avenue as if replenished hourly by fresh shiploads of immigrants." May they, may we, do so always.

JOHN T. DUNLEAVY, Chairman-Director
JOHN J. O'CONNOR, President-Director
HON. THOMAS J. MANTON, Honorary Chairman-Director
DR. JOHN L. LAHEY, Vice Chairman-Director
CATHERINE MITCHELL MICELI, Recording Secretary-Director
JOHN TAYLOR, Financial Secretary-Director
HILARY BEIRNE, Corresponding Secretary-Director
ROSEMARY LOMBARD, Treasurer-Director
PETER M. CASSELS, Sergeant-At-Arms-Director



Watch the video: Kings Park celebrates first St. Patricks Day parade (January 2022).