With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start pretending you’re Irish! Once you’ve got your shamrocks, your corned beef and cabbage, and a whole wardrobe of green garb, the celebration can ensue. When it comes to entertainment for the whole family, nothing beats a good parade. Decked-out floats, dancing leprechauns, pots of gold, marching bands, and Irish music and dancing are just the beginning of the fun in cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago. Here’s the lowdown on what to expect from this year’s festivities!
If you’ve ever been to South Boston, you know that Irish pride runs rampant year-round, so just imagine what St. Patrick’s Day is like! Bostonians go all out for the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, sponsored by The American War Veterans Council.
The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been a Boston tradition since 1901, making it one of the oldest in the country. Award-winning marching bands and pipe bands from throughout North America are a nice addition to the parade’s shamrock-covered floats and fire trucks. Irish good cheer is what this parade is all about.
When: Saturday, March 18, 1 p.m.
The parade starts on West Broadway, takes a left onto East Broadway, right onto “P” Street, right onto East 4th Street, left onto “K” Street, right onto East 5th Street, left onto “G” Street, right onto the Southerly Arm of Thomas Park, left onto Telegraph Street, left onto Dorchester Street and ends on Dorchester Avenue at Andrew Square.
Broadway is likely your best option for staking out a viewing spot.
Billed as “the oldest, biggest, and best in the world,” the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been on the streets since 1762⎯that’s fourteen years prior to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. According to historians, the first NYC St. Patty’s parade was held on lower Broadway by a band of homesick Irish ex-patriots and Irish military who served in the British Army stationed in the American colonies. The homesick Irish folk wore green, spoke Irish freely, sang Irish songs and played Irish tunes on their pipes.
Today, the parade is really not all that different. Unlike most other parades, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade doesn’t allow floats, automobiles, or other commercial spectacles; it’s strictly a marchers’ parade, featuring outstanding entertainment. If you’re a bit dismayed by the lack of floats, remember that 2 million spectators assemble to watch the parade each year, and those kinds of numbers aren’t drawn in by chance.
This year’s parade is dedicated to ALL American veterans, from every branch of service and from every war or conflict.
When: Saturday, March 17th, 11 A.M.
The “Line of March:”
The parade starts at 44th street and marches up Fifth Avenue past St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 50th Street all the way up past the Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Irish Historical Society at 83rd Street to 86th Street, where the parade finishes.
Every year, Chicago also hosts one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, but with a special twist. As an annual tradition before the parade begins, the Chicago River is dyed green⎯bright, emerald green. Spectators gather around on the Michigan Avenue bridge and the Columbus Drive bridge to watch the dying take place, as it’s truly a sight to behold!
The parade is a very family-friendly event, and you can be certain that the whole city (and its inhabitants) will be decked out in green. For adults, green beer will be served
at just about any bar along the parade route.
When: Saturday, March 17.
The parade starts at noon; the dyeing of the river is scheduled for 10:45 a.m.
The parade marches north on Columbus Drive, starting at the Balbo Dr. intersection and ending at E. Monroe Drive. The viewing stand will be located in front of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.
Looking for other fun things to do while you’re in the city? Check out our Go Boston Card, Go Chicago Card, and New York Explorer Explorer Pass, all offering admission to the best attractions in the city for one low price!