Major US Parades Embrace Green and Glee to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Advance

People across the United States celebrated Irish heritage at several major St. Patrick’s Day parades on Saturday, a day before the holiday itself. The celebrations included a big anniversary in Savannah, Georgia, and honored a pioneering female business leader as the grand marshal in New York. Despite the official St. Patrick’s Day falling on March 17, some parades were moved up from Sunday to accommodate the Christian faithful who observe it as a day of worship. Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, dating back to 1762, is one of the world’s largest Irish heritage festivities. Megan Stransky from Houston and her relatives utilized the parade as an opportunity to reflect on their Irish roots.

The New York parade didn’t disappoint with its bagpipers, bands, police and military contingents, as well as the first female CEO of a major U.S. beer company, Irish-born Maggie Timoney, serving as grand marshal. Prior to the parade, there was a reception at the mayoral residence attended by Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, who highlighted other reasons to celebrate Irish-American links this year, such as Irish actor Cillian Murphy’s best actor Oscar win. New York City hosts multiple parades across its boroughs, including the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Staten Island allowing LGBTQ+ groups to march, a reflection of the changing attitudes and inclusivity in the city’s celebrations.

Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade kicked off with a unique tradition of turning the Chicago River green, a spectacle that draws thousands of onlookers each year. Started by the local plumbers union, the tradition uses an environmentally friendly powder to dye the water green and is a must-see for many residents and visitors. Savannah also hosted a major parade for its bicentennial celebration, attracting large green-garbed crowds along its streets. Communities across the country added their own flavor to the festivities, such as in Oklahoma City, where a parade through Stockyard City featured longhorn cattle and a Grand Marshal dressed as St. Patrick. In San Francisco, different cultural groups came together to celebrate with dance, music, and food at the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The Manhattan parade began allowing LGBTQ+ groups and symbols in 2015, marking a significant step towards inclusivity following decades of protests and legal challenges. The new parade in Staten Island allowing LGBTQ+ contingents was organized by private organizers, bridging the gap in a borough that previously did not allow such groups to march. In Chicago, the tradition of dyeing the river green has become synonymous with the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, drawing crowds looking to witness the iconic spectacle firsthand. Savannah’s parade, steeped in history, has grown to become one of the South’s major annual events, attracting thousands of visitors to the area. Across the United States, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations continue to showcase the rich Irish heritage and bring communities together in a spirit of unity and celebration.

The St. Patrick’s Day festivities in San Francisco brought together people from different cultural backgrounds to enjoy the music, dance, and food at the city’s annual parade. The event emphasized the importance of unity and cultural diversity, promoting inclusivity and understanding among various groups. As communities nationwide celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, they embrace the traditions and values that define Irish heritage while also embracing diversity and inclusivity in their celebrations. The holiday serves as a reminder of the contributions of Irish immigrants to American culture and invites people of all backgrounds to come together in celebration of a shared heritage.